Week ahead: Obama poised to take victory lap on climate

All eyes are on President Obama's final State of the Union address, and how large of a role climate change will play in the speech.

He'll have a lot to talk about. The Tuesday speech will come exactly a month after negotiators from nearly 200 nations voted on an agreement in Paris to fight climate change.

Obama hasn't been shy about promoting what he sees as his leading role in getting the agreement completed, including through diplomacy and domestic policy.

It will also be four months after the president rolled out his climate change rule for power plants, by far the most aggressive federal government action on greenhouse gases in history.

Climate change and clean energy have played a role in most of the annual State of the Union speeches from Obama. He often strikes a positive tone and calls for more clean energy use, like in 2011 and 2013. But he has also used the address for forceful warnings or calls for Congress to act.

He said last year that "no challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change." And, in his 2013 speech, he started to outline what he would do through executive actions if Congress didn't take action.

Obama hasn't found willing partners in congressional Republicans, who are continuing to take aim at his climate agenda.

Members will consider two GOP bills to block environmental rules from the administration in the coming week.

First, they will bring up a Senate-passed bill blocking an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule establishing federal regulatory power over small waterways.

The rule, officially the Clean Water Rule but otherwise known as Waters of the United States, has already been temporarily blocked by a federal court. But Republicans, who consider the rule regulatory overreach, have looked to block it legislatively as well.

The Senate passed a Congressional Review Act resolution against the rule in November, and House Republicans will look to move it to the floor as early as next week.

If passed, Obama would veto the resolution. Last fall, the White House said the bill would "nullify years of work and deny businesses and communities the regulatory certainty needed to invest in projects that rely on clean water."

Republicans will also begin moving a bill from Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.) to delay a proposed coal mining rule designed to protect rivers and streams from pollution.

Coal-country lawmakers have warned the regulation -- an Office of Surface Mining proposal that is six years in the making -- will hurt jobs in the coal industry. The Obama administration and Democrats have said that's not the case.

"In my state," Mooney said at a House Natural Resources Committee hearing in September, "the thought of losing thousands more jobs [is] unconscionable."

"This newly proposed rule will not only impact coal fields in West Virginia and Appalachia, but also have widespread implications across the country."

Both bills go before the Rules Committee on Monday.



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