The Energy Bill that President Bush signed into law Wednesday mandates an increase in automotive fuel efficiency for the first time in 32 years. Under the new law, cars, SUVs and small trucks must get at least 35 miles per gallon by 2020.
Critics will argue about just what the energy bill will do — and what it won't do. But it will no doubt have a big impact on how and what we drive, how we heat our homes and how we keep our businesses humming along.
By any measure, the energy bill is a major piece of legislation: 806 pages of new standards and directives, tax breaks and grants.
At a White House ceremony, the president praised Congress for sending the legislation to him.
"We make a major step toward reducing our dependence on oil, confronting global climate change, expanding production of renewable fuels and giving future generations a nation that is stronger, cleaner and more secure," Bush said.
Key parts of the bill include new fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks, and new requirements to increase the use of ethanol and other biofuels.
Congress last increased fuel economy standards in 1975. Back then, lawmakers set the bar at 25 miles per gallon — meaning an auto company's fleet of cars had to average 25 mpg. The new legislation raises that by 40 percent — to 35 mpg by 2020.
Alternative energy sources, on the other hand, were not a major focus of the legislation.
Daniel Sperling, professor of civil engineering and environmental science at the University of California-Davis, talks with Melissa Block about what the new standards mean for consumers and automakers.