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Bush Signs Energy Bill, Touting Independence

President Bush says the new energy bill won't bring down gasoline prices right away but would make a contribution to long-term energy independence. The president interrupted his vacation in Texas to visit the Sandia laboratory near Albuquerque, N.M., where he signed the bill into law.

President Bush said the $14.5 billion energy bill, which he first proposed four years ago, offers comprehensive ways to conserve energy and fund research into new, cleaner sources. Critics staged a rally to coincide with the signing, calling the new legislation a gift for oil and natural gas producers.

At the Sandia National Laboratories, Bush toured a solar thermal test facility, a dusty field with enormous solar collecting mirrors. At a time when many Americans are concerned about how much it costs to fill up their cars, though, the president made clear the bill is no quick fix.

The president said issues involving gasoline prices and oil supplies "have developed over decades. It will take years of focused effort to alleviate those problems."

Responding to critics who have portrayed the bill as being too soft on environmental regulation in favor of large energy companies, President Bush cited the bill's funding for research into "clean-coal" technology, meant to lower emissions from coal-fueled power plants.

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David Greene is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to radio news program in the United States, and also of NPR's popular morning news podcast, Up First.