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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Declaring a new direction in energy policy, the House on Saturday approved $16 billion in taxes on oil companies, while providing billions of dollars in tax breaks and incentives for renewable energy and conservation, The Associated Press reported.
Republican opponents said the legislation ignored the need to produce more domestic oil, natural gas and coal. One GOP lawmaker bemoaned "the pure venom ... against the oil and gas industry," according to the AP.
The House passed the tax provisions by a vote of 221-189. Earlier, the lawmakers had approved, 241-172, a companion energy package aimed at boosting energy efficiency and expanding use of biofuels, wind power and other renewable energy sources.
The two bills -- passed at an unusual Saturday session as lawmakers prepared to leave for their month-long summer recess -- will be merged with Senate legislation passed in June.
Furthermore, on one of the most contentious and heavily lobbied issues, the House voted to require investor-owned electric utilities nationwide to generate at least 15 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources, such as wind or biofuels.
"It's a big, big deal," Rep. Edward J. Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts and a longtime member of the energy committee, said in a New York Times report. "There's been no legislation like this for a generation."