President Bush urged Congress to pass the House Energy Bill at the 16th annual Energy Efficiency Forum on Wednesday. The President's 2006 budget includes $2.5 billion over 10 years in tax incentives to consumers for the purchase of hybrid cars and trucks. The same tax credits would be eligible for clean-diesel vehicles. Last week Democrats offered an alternative energy bill called the New Apollo Energy Act. Provisions include $11.5 billion in tax credits for the automotive industry to develop new fuel-efficient automobiles, retool existing plants, and construct new plants to manufacture energy-efficient vehicles. Other provisions in the bill include an alternative fuel vehicle purchase requirement for government agencies; tax credits for the installation of alternative refueling properties and for the retail sale of alternative fuels; a renewable fuels standard set at 8 billion gallons by 2013; modification of the tax credit for qualified electric vehicles; and loans for schools to buy high-efficiency vehicles. The House recently passed its version of the energy bill, which among other things would give liability protection to makers of gasoline additive methyl tertiary-butyl ether, MTBE. Some moderate Republicans and many Democrats in the Senate staunchly oppose the legal shield, which would cover big oil companies such as ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil. MTBE is an antiknock additive mixed with gasoline to help the fuel burn more cleanly. It has been blamed for fouling water supplies in a number of communities. The liability protection, expected to be a major point of contention, is absent from the Senate version.
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