George W. Bush on August 8 signed a sweeping energy bill he said would strengthen the U.S. economy and eventually help wean the U.S. foreign sources of oil. The U.S. Congress passed the legislation just last month, about four years after the administration proposed it, drawing an outcry from environmental groups who said it favored oil companies at the expense of conservation.
"The bill makes an unprecedented commitment to energy conservation and efficiency -- unprecedented commitment," said Bush, who paid a symbolic visit to a solar panel manufacturing plant during his trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico. The president also noted that the legislation aimed to encourage the development of nuclear energy -- no new atomic power plants have been built in the U.S. since the Three Mile Island crisis of 1979. "We will start building nuclear plants again by the end of this decade," the president vowed.
The bill signing came as polls showed many Americans worry about the economy despite recent upbeat news and face sky-high gas costs at the pump amid soaring oil prices on world markets.
The bill is packed with billions of dollars in industry subsidies, but was stripped of a key Bush goal of opening up an Arctic wildlife preserve in Alaska for oil drilling. Many independent analysts say the legislation does little to boost domestic production of oil, and will fail to significantly reduce high US dependence on foreign oil.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2005