Of the dizzying array of topics crammed into the 1,428-page Waxman-Markey bill which passed the House in June 2009 by the slimmest of margins (219-212), energy efficiency is the very first topic. By comparison, the bill doesn’t even mention cap-and-trade (for which it is most widely known) until six sections and 678 pages later.

The fact that energy efficiency comes first in the bill makes a lot of sense. Least-cost climate change mitigation relies on the successful implementation of a range of energy conservation measures. The potential for low or no-cost investments in conservation and energy efficiency is substantial. Investments such as commercial and residential building energy efficiency upgrades and increases in transportation fuel efficiency can generate cost savings well in excess of the costs to implement them.

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