US: Far-reaching energy bill is approved

For the fifth time in four years the House has approved a far-reaching energy bill. Unresolved is whether the Senate will be able to put together legislation that both chambers can embrace.

That's been a long-standing problem and it's likely to continue to be one this time around.

Despite concern across the country as high gasoline prices pinch the pocketbook, the struggle to enact a new national agenda on energy probably won't ease in the months ahead. Senate Republicans hope to get their &to=http:// ' target=_blank>energy bill ready for a vote before the end of May.

The bill the House passed Thursday by a 249-183 margin reflects many of President Bush's energy priorities, and energy industries and the business community quickly embraced it. Just as quickly, environmentalists and many congressional Democrats denounced it, although 41 Democrats voted for passage, tells ABC News.

The measure calls for opening Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development, and alters the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Clean Air Act by giving localities whose polluted air comes from distant states more time to meet national air-quality standards. It would grant funding for research into oil and natural gas drilling in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico -- at a cost as high as $2 billon.

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