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Bush signs energy bill into law

The bill's signing drew wide, bipartisan support in Congress. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) touted the benefits to both the environment and Americans' fiscal well-being.

"Today, by signing the Energy Independence and Security Act, President Bush has joined the Congress in taking a step forward into the future," Pelosi said in a statement Wednesday. "This legislation will benefit our consumers, with savings at the pump, it will strengthen our national security, and it will preserve God's beautiful creation for our future generations."

The energy bill, H.R. 6, mandates that 36 billion gallons of biofuels will be included into the U.S. energy complex by 2022. The RFS will scale up to that total usage number from 9 billion gallons in 2008 and 20.5 billion in 2015. This long-term usage goal will rely some upon cellulosic ethanol production that's now in the works but yet to be implemented on a commercial scale in the U.S.

According to data from the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE), the new RFS, along with increased fuel efficiency standards included in the energy bill, will reduce domestic oil use by five million barrels per day by 2030, saving the consumer public $161 billion in fuel costs each year. The environmental impact of this, ACE numbers show, will amount to a 320-million-metric-ton drop in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by 2020.

"Expensive imports of oil and gasoline are a serious drain on America's economy, not only costing motorists at each fill-up, but also driving up the cost of consumer goods that are so dependent upon energy for processing, packaging, and transportation," according to ACE vice president Brian Jennings. "This strong new Renewable Fuels Standard will put the brakes on these economic problems and usher in a new era of increased access to homegrown, cost-effective biofuels like ethanol."

Wednesday's energy bill signing has an equally dramatic imact on the agriculture industry that will be called upon to meet future biofuels needs. National Farmers Union president, Tom Buis, told reporters Wednesday that he was pleased the energy bill had passed. It will continue to support the rural development that has come with the biofuels boom, he said.

"Had we not expanded the renewable fuels standard, if it hadn't been increased, I think the bubble could have burst on commodity prices," Buis said.

Buis said his group was disappointed that the final energy bill doesn't include a renewable electricity standard. That was part of a House bill that was defeated in the Senate. It would have required that 15% of electricity come from renewable sources such as solar and wind power by 2020.

The energy bill containing a 36-billion-gallon renewable fuels standard (RFS) that was approved by the House of Representatives on Tuesday became law Wednesday morning with President George W. Bush's signature.

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