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US Congress turns focus to energy bills: report

With US gasoline prices near record levels the US Senate may take up an energy bill late Tuesday to strengthen national security and lower pump prices, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

The measures include efforts to boost automobile fuel efficiency for the first time in a generation, require a fivefold increase in biofuel use, institute tough penalties for price gouging, and set higher efficiency standards for appliances, lighting and buildings, said the report. But the legislation, drawn up by four committees, faces an array of hurdles, including heavy lobbying by the auto industry, attempts by some lawmakers to promote coal and nuclear fuel use, and strong opposition from the Bush administration to the price-gouging provisions, according to the report.

Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been at odds over an energy bill with House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Dingell, a defender of the auto industry, and Richard Boucher, chairman of the Energy and Air Quality subcommittee. Boucher champions turning coal into liquid transportation fuel, something environmentalists oppose, and a sponsor of a measure that would undercut California's ability to set its own tougher standards for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, said the report. (