Larry Summers, the Director of the National Economic Council, used his luncheon speech at today’s Energy Information Administration Annual Energy Outlook Conference to lay out a compelling case for comprehensive energy and climate legislation. The text of his remarks should be posted on the conference website soon and will be worth a read as he positioned his points about energy and climate in the context of an expansive overview of the economic crisis and the Obama administration’s strategy to get the U.S. economy back on track.

In the meantime, here is an outline of the five key points he made about the economic importance of enacting comprehensive climate and energy legislation:

  1. Enacting legislation will create demand and jobs in the short term, when the economy has idle labor and other economic resources that can be put to work building the foundation of a clean energy economy.
  2. Enacting legislation will reduce uncertainty and increase confidence, spurring greater private sector investment.
  3. Enacting legislation will result in a more efficient policy framework by cutting subsidies for dirty fossil fuels and increasing reliance on a market-based system to reduce emissions.
  4. Enacting legislation will spur innovation, which is the key to our long-term prosperity.
  5. Enacting legislation will strengthen America’s international competitive position by reducing our dependence on oil from unstable parts of the world and making the United States a leader in the technologies that will drive growth in the 21st Century.

Press coverage that I have seen predictably focuses on Summers’ response to a question about the political priority President Obama places on passing energy and climate legislation this year. His response, “Going forward for the rest of this year a bipartisan energy solution is an absolutely crucial priority for the president,” was certainly a tasty dessert, but the highly substantive main course should not be neglected.