Overnight Energy: Pope backs Obama on climate

POPEMANIA ON CLIMATE RULE: Pope FrancisPope FrancisEndangered Species Act is a modern-day Noah's Ark — Trump must stop trying to sink it Pope Francis cautions against nationalism, says recent political rhetoric has echoed 'Hitler in 1934' Pope: 'Defenseless people' targeted in US mass shootings MORE backed President Obama's carbon limits for power plants Wednesday, calling the rule "encouraging."

Francis wasn't expected to wade too deeply into politics, but his speech at the White House did touch on some sensitive issues in the United States, including the climate rule.

"Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution," the leader of the Catholic Church said.

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"Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to our future generations."

He went on to speak longer about climate change than any other issue in his first major address on American soil, saying "we are living at a critical moment of history" in terms of saving the planet.

At the same event, Obama told Francis the White House supports "your call to all world leaders to support the communities most vulnerable to a changing climate and to come together to preserve our precious world for future generations."

Read more here.

VW CHIEF OUT: Volkswagen Group chief Martin Winterkorn stepped down Wednesday amid international anger over the company's actions to cheat on United States vehicle emissions tests.

Winterkorn said in a statement that he is "shocked" by the events in recent days and took responsibilities for the "irregularities" in testing.

The resignation followed tough grilling on the scandal from Volkswagen's board.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed last week that some Volkswagen diesel cars were programmed to cheat on pollutions tests and emit far less than they would in normal circumstances.

Read more here.

ON TAP THURSDAY I: Pope Francis will speak Thursday morning to a joint session of Congress, the first such speech by a pope in history. He is widely expected to devote attention to climate change and urge international action to fight it.

ON TAP THURSDAY II: The Heritage Foundation will host a discussion on the ongoing state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping, with Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) giving keynote remarks. Topics will include China's environmental record.

FOR YOUR CALENDARS: The Hill will host a discussion on Sept. 29 about the EPA's proposed rule to reduce methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector, as well as other government and private efforts to cut methane pollution. The Hill's Timothy Cama and Bob Cusack will moderate. Featured speakers will include Center for Climate Change and Energy Solutions President Bob Perciasepe and James Bradbury from the Energy Department's energy policy office. The event's free, so check out the details and register to attend here: http://bit.ly/1LxjDs6

AROUND THE WEB:

The EPA heard some very diverse opinions in Denver Wednesday at a public hearing on its methane emissions rule, CBS Denver reports.

The federal government is planning to lease nearly 344,000 acres off New Jersey's coast for wind energy development, the Associated Press reports.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Wednesday's stories ...

- VW scrubs diesel references from social media, YouTube
- Clinton outlines energy infrastructure plan
- Senators unveil climate bill ahead of pope's speech
Park advocacy group urges Congress to avoid shutdown
- EPA puts $12.3M in program to help cities cleanup contaminated sites
- Volkswagen chief quits over emissions scandal
- Pope Francis gets political in remarks at White House
- Pope praises Obama's climate change rule
- US regulators say French company manipulated gas market

Please send tips and comments to Timothy Cama, tcama@thehill.com; and Devin Henry, dhenry@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @Timothy_Cama@dhenry@thehill