WASHINGTON -- Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman warned today that President Bush likely would veto an energy bill like the one passed by the Senate last week.
Bodman cited the bills fuel economy provisions as one of its flaws.
Senators voted for a combined car-truck fuel economy standard of 35 mpg by 2020 instead of leaving the precise numbers up to the regulatory experts, the energy secretary said. The standard would be about 40 percent higher than todays numbers -- 27.5 mpg for cars and 22.2 mpg for trucks.
Bodman said he hopes that eventually, House and Senate conferees will produce a bill that the president can sign.
The Senate approved its bill late last week. The House is preparing to debate energy legislation, but it remains unclear whether a vote on fuel economy will occur soon in that chamber or be put off until fall.
Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., an auto industry ally and chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, wants to deal with the issue later. But some lawmakers, as well as environmental and consumer groups, want faster action.
Bodman commented on energy legislation after announcing grants totaling $375 million over five years to three newly named bio-energy research centers. The assignment of the research centers is to overcome scientific hurdles to making ethanol from plant wastes instead of from corn.
The product, called cellulosic ethanol, is considered essential if government and industry are to succeed in switching large numbers of motor vehicles to renewable fuels.
Bodman also criticized the Senate-passed bill for these provisions:
- Taking too long to reach a goal of producing 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel each year.
- Allowing for antitrust litigation against the international oil cartel.
- Providing penalties for oil companies that commit price gouging.
You may e-mail Harry Stoffer at [email protected]