Carter sparks synfuels drive

President Carter signed into law Monday a $25 billion synthetic-fuels bill designed to cut national dependence on oil by launching an industry that produces energy from shale, coal, and other substances.

The bill, signed at a White House ceremony, aims to develop an industry capable of producing 2 million barrels of synthetic fuels a day by 1990. The law also requires the President to begin filling the nation's strategic petroleum reserve at a rate of 100,000 barrels a day by October.

The House gave the compromise bill final legislative approval Thursday amid lingering doubts that government and public money should give birth to a new industry.

The bill creates a federal agency, the Synthetic Fuels Corporation, to provide $20 billion for loans, loan gurantees, price supports, and joint participation with industry in synthetic-fuel development.

It earmarks $3 billion in subsidies for energy conservation and renewable energy investments, which will be given out by a new Solar Energy and Energy Conservation Bank.

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