The bipartisan US Energy Policy Act of 2005 has passed in the House of Representatives with a vote of 249-183. The bill contains a package of production and conservation measures that includes controversially allowing for oil exploration in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. The bill will allow oil production to occur on just 2000 acres of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

The bill also contains the Clean Coal Power initiative that provides $1.8 billion to fund demonstration projects for advanced technologies and a substantial investment in clean-coal technology. In addition, the bill sets out mandatory reliability standards, incentives for transmission grid investments and reforms to the transmission sitting rules.

The bill also encourages more nuclear and hydroelectric production by allowing the Energy Department to develop accelerated programmes for the production and supply of electricity, including building new reactors and improving hydro project licensing.

Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman said, “this bill will put us on a path to affordable and reliable supplies of energy in the future by improving energy efficiency; increasing domestic energy supplies; diversifying our energy sources to include more renewable energy sources; and modernising our energy delivery system.” Bodman added, “I hope the Senate can get a bill out of the Congress and to the President this summer, before the August recess.”

Meanwhile, President George Bush is urging the US Congress to pass an energy bill that encourages more domestic energy production, including nuclear power, saying the “first order of business” in making sure the US has reliable, affordable and secure sources of energy, is for Congress to pass a bill that meets four objectives including both increasing domestic energy production and diversifying the nation’s energy supply. Bush added, “We need to promote safe, clean nuclear power.”