George W. Bush has signed an energy bill that he says will help the US economy and reduce dependence on foreign oil.
Critics, including environmentalists and some Democrats, accuse the president of helping American energy firms rather than aiming to reduce pollution and protect natural resources. Bush insisted the legislation would make a big difference: “The bill will allow Americans to make cleaner and more productive use of our domestice energy resources, including coal and nuclear power and oil and natural gas. By using more of these reliable resources to supply more of our own energy we’ll reduce our reliance on energy from foreign countries, and that’ll help our economy grow so people can work.” Earlier Bush toured a solar energy test centre in New Mexico to emphasise the greener side of the bill, which includes developing bio-fuel for cars. The president had to admit his initiative would not do much to relieve the record high prices at the petrol pumps. Neither will it impose fuel economy requirements on automakers criticised for their gas-guzzling sports utility vehicles or SUVs. In the autumn Bush’s supporters will aim to pass legislation allowing oil wells to be opened up in the Arctic wilderness.