Published January 13, 2015
An energy bill years in the making was one step away from President Bush's desk after the House on Thursday approved a compromise bill, which offers $14.5 billion in tax breaks as well as billions in subsidies to the electric, coal, nuclear, natural-gas and oil industries.
It also gives money to research, develop and promote renewable energy sources and technologies.
And starting in 2007, daylight saving time (search) will be extended by four weeks, from the second Sunday in March through the first Sunday in November. It currently runs from the first Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October.
The House passed the measure 275-156. The Senate will likely vote on the same bill on Friday. White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said Bush would sign the legislation.
House and Senate negotiators reached a breakthrough earlier this week after lawmakers agreed to drop provisions protecting makers of MTBE, a gasoline additive, from lawsuits.
MTBE (search), which had been mandated by Congress in 1990 in an attempt to decrease gasoline emissions, was later found to pollute groundwater.
"This is a good bill for America," declared Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, a key author of the legislation. "It is for America's future."
"It is not a perfect bill," said Sen. John Dingell, D-Mich. but it is "a solid beginning" to what he listed as diversifying future energy sources, improving the nation's aging electricity grid and fostering energy conservation.
The 1,725-page bill came after years of debate over a national energy plan, which has not been renewed for 10 years. Critics said the new measure would do nothing to reduce U.S. oil consumption or dampen high energy prices. The average retail gasoline price per gallon in the U.S. was $2.289 on Monday, according to the Department of Energy.
Opponents also called the bill a boon to the energy industry.
"This bill is packed with royalty relief, tax breaks, loan guarantees for the wealthiest energy companies in America, even as they are reporting the largest quarterly profits of any corporations in the history of the United States," complained Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass. "It is politically and morally wrong."
"When it comes to solving America's pressing energy problems, this bill can only be classified as a miserable failure," said Anna Aurilio, legislative director of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. "This bill fails to reduce America's dependence on oil, fails to address the threat of global warming, fails to make any new investments in clean energy, and by the president's own admission, fails to help consumers at the gas pump."
"The bill also paves the way for future [oil] drilling off currently protected coastlines and preempts states' rights in siting dangerous liquefied natural gas (search) facilities and transmission lines," Aurilio added.
The bill would funnel $2.7 billion in tax breaks to the oil and gas industries and provide additional support in the form of royalty relief, including $500 million over 10 years for research into drilling in extremely deep areas of the Gulf of Mexico.
The bill no longer includes a House-authored provision that would have permitted oil and gas development in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (search). ANWR drilling may still be authorized during the fall's budget reconciliation process.
Lawmakers agreed to triple the amount of corn-based ethanol in gasoline to 7.5 billion gallons in 2012. That provision appeases farm state lawmakers as well as those looking for renewable fuel sources.
FOX News' Sharon Kehnemui Liss and The Associated Press contributed to this report.