December 19, 2007 / 4:00 PM / 12 years ago

UPDATE 1-Bush signs bill to boost US vehicle fuel efficiency

(Adds Bush quote, details on energy bill)

WASHINGTON, Dec 19 (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush on Wednesday signed into law a landmark energy bill that increases U.S. vehicle fuel efficiency for the first time in over three decades, significantly boosts ethanol use and phases out the traditional light bulb.

The key part of the new law raises the gasoline mileage requirements of cars and trucks by 40 percent to an average 35 miles per gallon by 2020, which will eventually reduce U.S. oil demand by 2 million barrels a day.

The law also raises yearly production of renewable motor fuels, such as ethanol, five fold to 36 billion gallons by 2022, and requires more ethanol in the next decade to be made from non-food “cellulosic” sources like wood chips, switchgrass and other agricultural waste. Most U.S. ethanol is now made from corn.

“It will help us diversify our energy supplies and reduce our dependence on oil,” Bush said at the bill’s signing ceremony held at the Energy Department.

The energy efficiency of lighting will be improved by about 30 percent under the law, which will force the phaseout of the traditional incandescent light bulb between 2012 and 2014, saving consumers about $13 a billion a year in electrical costs.

The law also requires appliances, including residential dishwashers and clothes washers and commercial walk-in coolers and freezers, to use less energy.

Supporters of the new law say it will help ease America’s addiction to foreign oil by developing home-grown renewable energy supplies and encouraging energy conservation.

Opponents said the law focuses too much on reducing energy use instead of increasing domestic supplies of oil and natural gas.

(Reporting by Tom Doggett; Editing by Neil Stempleman and Christian Wiessner)

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