The U.S. Senate approved a landmark energy bill Thursday night that requires the first increase in vehicle fuel economy standards in more than 30 years. But the bill is far less ambitious than Democrats wanted, as they bowed to pressure from Republicans and the Bush administration and removed a $22 billion tax package that would have cut tax breaks for oil companies and boosted support for renewable energy.
The removal of the tax package was a second blow to the renewable energy industry ?earlier in the week Democrats had ceded to Republican demands to remove a renewable electricity mandate from the bill. The provision, approved last week by the House, would have required investor-owned utilities get 15 percent of their electricity.
The scaled-back measure passed 86-8 and the House is expected to approve the bill next week. The Bush administration has indicated the president will sign the legislation into law.
Democrats noted disappointment at the demise of the tax package and the removal of a renewable electricity standard but said the final bill is still a historic achievement.