OVERNIGHT ENERGY: After Obama’s speech, a hunt for details

Several groups — including 350.org and the Sierra Club — are knee-deep in planning for a big Feb. 17 climate rally on the National Mall that will focus heavily on calls to reject the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.

“[W]e know that even if the president is sincere in every syllable, he's going to need lots of backup to help him get his point across in a city dominated by fossil fuel interests,” 350.org founder Bill McKibben wrote on the group’s website after Obama’s remarks.

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While the main climate battle of Obama’s first term was in Congress, where emissions-capping legislation collapsed, there’s little hope for another big legislative effort.

Instead, advocates are pressing for measures that can be accomplished with executive actions, such as Keystone’s fate and setting carbon standards for existing power plants.

Still, Capitol Hill Democrats are trying to create more political space for action on climate.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has signaled in recent weeks that she plans to seek the political offensive on climate in the new Congress.

“The way the President spoke about climate change in his remarks today was exactly right. Addressing the threat of climate change is about protecting the future for our children and future generations, our most sacred obligation,” she said in a statement Monday.

IN CONGRESS, BACK TO WORK: On Tuesday the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold its organizational meeting for the 113th Congress. The panel will then immediately consider several bills, including the bipartisan Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013.

“This bipartisan bill would facilitate the development of small hydropower and conduit projects and direct the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to study the feasibility of a streamlined two-year permitting process,” according to the office of co-sponsor Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.).

SENATE LEADER READIES AGENDA: BuzzFeed reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will float 10 bills Tuesday that represent his broad agenda for the new Congress. Among them: a measure on “preparing for extreme weather.”

LATER THIS WEEK: Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which is vetting his nomination for secretary of State, is coming up Thursday.

Kerry, if confirmed, would oversee Obama administration climate diplomacy, including participation in United Nations-led talks that are aimed at crafting a new global greenhouse gas accord in 2015 that would come into force in 2020.

He could also inherit State’s review of the controversial Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, unless a final decision on the proposed project arrives before Kerry is confirmed.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out these stories that ran on E2-Wire Monday and over the weekend ...

— Gore praises Obama for speaking ‘powerfully’ on climate change
Climate change featured prominently in Obama’s second inaugural address
— Lawmakers, celebrities go black-tie at the Green Ball
— Energy Secretary Chu: ‘I’m still standing’
— Offshore drilling adviser supports ‘balanced’ Arctic development

NEWS BITES:

Exxon chief, Iraqi PM chat

The Associated Press reports that Iraq’s prime minister met with the head of Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson met on Monday, “raising the possibility that Baghdad could be mending its dispute with America’s largest oil company.”

“Exxon is helping to develop one of Iraq’s largest oil fields, but it has infuriated Baghdad by signing separate deals with the OPEC member’s largely autonomous Kurdish region to hunt for crude there too,” AP reports. The whole story is here.

Solar companies eye Middle East, North Africa

Bloomberg reports that solar energy companies are looking to the Middle East and North Africa “as utilities seek to cut reliance on burning oil and natural gas in power plants to meet demand.” From their story:

The providers of plants generating electricity from the sun can produce energy at a price competitive with fossil fuels when accounting for the profit oil producers forgo by burning crude at home, said Raffi Garabedian, chief technology officer for First Solar.

“That dynamic drives the economic proposition for renewables in this region,” Garabedian said in an interview in Abu Dhabi on Jan. 16. Demand for alternatives to burning liquid fuels “creates a very healthy long-term market for photovoltaics in the region.”

Check it out here.

Please send tips and comments to Ben Geman, ben.geman@thehill.com, and Zack Colman, zcolman@thehill.com.

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