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Bush Signs Energy Bill

President Bush has signed legislation into law that sets aside billions of dollars to help reduce America's dependence on foreign oil and build up the nation's energy infrastructure.

With oil prices setting record highs, President Bush says this legislation provides a long-term strategy to promote energy independence.

"This bill will strengthen our economy and it will improve our environment and it is going to make this country more secure," Mr. Bush says.

It is the first energy strategy bill to be signed into law in more than a decade, and it comes at a time of growing consumer pressure on the government to do something about the high cost of gasoline.

As he prepared to sign the measure into law, the president said he is well aware of the impact ever rising energy costs are having on the country.

"The Energy Policy Act of 2005 is going to help every American who drives to work, every family that pays a power bill and every business owner hoping to expand," Mr. Bush says.

But he said change will not come quickly or easily. He called the energy bill a critical first step, but warned that the energy problems facing America were years in the making.

"The bill is not going to solve our energy challenges overnight," Mr. Bush says. "Most of the serious problems such as high gasoline costs and rising dependence on foreign oil have developed over decades. It's going to take years of focused effort to alleviate these problems."

The massive energy bill, which runs more than 1700 pages, was the result of years of political wrangling in Washington. Some of its most controversial provisions, such as oil drilling in the Alaskan wilderness, were stripped out. What remains is primarily a set of incentives to energy companies to develop technology, promote efficiency, and build new nuclear power plants.

The $14.5 billion legislation also includes tax savings for consumers who buy hybrid gasoline electric cars and make energy-conservation improvements in their homes. But critics stress it does not contain fuel mileage requirements for the automobile industry, and they say all Congress did was throw money at the problem without thinking carefully about the best way to get results.

President Bush strongly disagrees. To highlight the bill's emphasis on alternative energy sources, he signed the measure in the state of New Mexico after touring an Energy Department facility that conducts research into solar power. And he made a point of saying that the legislation is global in reach, and authorizes a recently announced partnership with India, China, Australia, South Korea and Japan to promote clean energy technology.