WASHINGTON – President Bush signed into law Wednesday legislation that will bring more fuel-efficient vehicles into auto showrooms and require wider use of ethanol, calling it "a major step" toward energy independence and easing global warming.
The legislation signed by Bush at a ceremony at the Energy Department requires automakers to increase fuel efficiency by 40 percent to an industry average 35 miles per gallon by 2020. It also ramps up production of ethanol use to 36 billion gallons a year by 2022.
Bush said the new requirements will help "address our vulnerabilities and dependency" on foreign oil by reducing demand for gasoline and diversifying the nation's fuel supply.
"We make a major step ... toward reducing our dependence on oil, fighting global climate change, expanding the production of renewable fuels and giving future generations ... a nation that is stronger cleaner and more secure," said the president.
Bush was flanked by Democrat and Republican members of Congress who had ushered the legislation through.
The House passed the energy bill Tuesday by a 314-100 vote after the Senate cleared it last week following lengthy negotiations and sometimes testy confrontations. Bush had vowed to veto the original legislation passed by the House because it included $21 billion in taxes.
The tax provisions were dropped to get the bill approved.