LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska lawmakers have passed a bill to merge the state Department of Environmental Quality and the Nebraska State Energy Office.

The measure won final approval in the Legislature Friday on a 45-0 vote, and will now go to the governor. The new agency will get renamed the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Dan Hughes, of Venango, at the request of Gov. Pete Ricketts.

It's been touted as a way to increase efficiency in state government. State officials say the merger could save roughly $207,000 in annual personnel expenses, and that money would be used instead for operating costs and state aid programs.

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