WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate neared completion of a sweeping national energy agenda late Thursday that would promote conservation and environmentally friendly fuels. But senators rejected a last-minute bid to substantially raise automobile fuel economy over the next decade.
The massive energy bill, which was essentially completed but awaits a final vote next Tuesday, contrasts with a bill more favorable to oil and gas producers and approved by the House in April.
If the Senate, as expected, passes the bill next week, it will set the stage for difficult, possibly lengthy negotiations with the House later this summer.
"It's going to be a tough conference [with the House]," said Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., who will lead the Senate talks with the other chamber.
Late Thursday, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., tried to put into the bill a provision that would require a nearly 50 percent increase in automobile fuel economy to a fleet average of 40 miles per gallon over the next decade.
"Instead of moving forward, we have been going backward," as automobiles become less fuel efficient, he said.
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