Overnight Energy: White House steps up defense of climate rule

'DON'T DESPAIR, PEOPLE': The White House moved to defend its beleaguered climate rule for power plants on Thursday, two days after the Supreme Court temporarily blocked the regulation's implementation.

"Don't despair, people," President Obama told a Democratic fundraiser on Thursday. "This a legal decision that says, 'Hold on until we review the legality.' We are very firm in terms of the legal footing here."

The Supreme Court voted 5-4 on Tuesday to stay the Clean Power Plan while litigation against the rule moves forward. The decision emboldened the plan's opponents, who said it hints at their future victory in the court system.

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But Obama said that's not the case. He called the Supreme Court's stay order "unusual," but said he is confident the rule will be upheld. The decision, though, will come after his presidency ends.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyObama won’t weaken car emissions standards Overnight Energy: Rough hearing for Tillerson Trump's pick for EPA chief could clean up Obama mess MORE, meanwhile, told state regulators that they should push forward with plans to green their power sectors despite the ruling.

McCarthy said market forces are already pushing the electricity sector toward cleaner energy, a trend that began even before the Obama administration finalized the Clean Power Plan.

"States, really try to continue to seize the opportunities," she said at a meeting of state regulators Thursday. "We know that the market is moving in this direction, we all want to grab it for all of its benefits and squeeze that dry, and I don't think that this decision changes any of our emphasis and enthusiasm to work on these issues together."

States hostile to the power rule said this week that they would, indeed, hold off on crafting a compliance plan until the courts rule on the regulation's legality.

But several Democratic administrations around the country have said they will continue their work on the matter even while litigation moves forward. McCarthy said that was the right path forward.

"Are we going to respect the decision of the Supreme Court? You bet, of course we are," she said.

"But it doesn't mean it's the only thing we're working on and it doesn't mean we won't continue to support any state that voluntarily wants to move forward."

Read about Obama's speech here, and McCarthy's speech here.

OREGON OCCUPATION ENDS: A 41-day standoff between federal officials and anti-government protesters in Oregon ended on Thursday as the FBI apprehended the few remaining occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Three of the four remaining members of a self-styled militia group surrendered shortly after 9:30 a.m.

The final holdout peacefully surrendered and was taken into custody by the FBI several hours later, after airing a rambling list of grievances and threatening to commit suicide.

The occupation began Jan. 2 when approximately 300 armed occupiers, led by brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy, took over the Wildlife Refuge in Burns, Ore. to protest the government's punishment of two local men for arson on federal land.

The protest expanded to opposition to federal land ownership generally and drew supporters from around the country.

The Bundy brothers were arrested last month and had encouraged their allies to stand down as well.

Their father, Cliven Bundy, was arrested en route to the protest site on Thursday and booked on federal charges stemming from the 2014 armed standoff at his Nevada ranch.

Read more about the occupation's end here, and Bundy's arrest here.

DEM WANTS TO 'KEEP IT IN THE GROUND': A House Democrat introduced a bill Thursday to block future fossil fuel development on federal land.

The bill, from Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), won't go anywhere in the GOP-controlled Congress. But supporters of the effort -- a push by greens to wean the U.S. off fossil fuels by ending future development on public land -- said it shows their cause has momentum.  

"Our movement is more powerful than it ever has been, and our elected officials are responding to that with more thoughtful policies," Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said.

This bill "gives Congress the opportunity to take the next step against climate disruption, which is to keep dirty fuels in the ground," he added.

The bill is the House version of one introduced by presidential candidate Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders supports women marchers with tweet Five takeaways from Trump's inauguration Trump takes reins of divided nation MORE (I-Vt.), among others, in the upper chamber last fall. Greens have tried to encourage the Obama administration and Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonClinton thanks protesters ahead of women’s march Pro-choice feminists can't take women's rights hostage Thousands expected for women's march Saturday MORE to embrace the "keep it in the ground" push, something they have both begun to do, to certain degrees.

"This is the sort of the legislation that gets us far in that direction," Bill McKibben, the co-founder of climate group 350.org, said on Thursday.

Read more here.

AROUND THE WEB:

Massachusetts has launched a website to help residents and urban planners learn how to confront climate change, Governing Magazine reports.

A nationwide survey finds that teachers may not be properly instructing students on the science behind climate change, the New York Times reports.

Climate change could exacerbate the spread of diseases like the Zika virus, The Guardian reports.    

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Thursday's stories...

-Obama: 'Don't despair' over Supreme Court halting climate rule
-EPA chief downplays 'covert propaganda'
-EPA chief urges states to stick with power plan despite SCOTUS stay
-EPA faces questions on why it didn't act sooner in Flint
-GOP report: EPA employee knew mine waste spill was possible
-Final Oregon protester surrenders after 41 days
-Dem-sponsored bill would block federal fossil fuel development
-Michigan governor: Hillary comments on Flint 'not accurate'
-Rancher Cliven Bundy arrested in Oregon

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