Overnight Energy: Paris climate conference kicks off

AN AMERICAN IN PARIS: President Obama kicked off the United Nations climate change conference in Paris on Monday warning that world leaders are running out of time to address the issue.

"We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change, and the last generation that can do something about it," he said.

The UN's conference is designed to reach an international accord on climate change, a pact years in the making and one of Obama's biggest foreign policy goals in his second term.

ADVERTISEMENT

During the first day of the meeting, Obama met with other world leaders including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

He said the United States is ready and willing to combat climate change, and highlighted several of his administration's policies to prove his point.

"I've come here personally, as the leader of the world's largest economy and the second-largest emitter, to say that the United States of America not only recognizes our role in creating this problem, we embrace our responsibility to do something about it," Obama said.

Republicans have rejected Obama's push for a climate accord and have looked to undercut it with his negotiating partners.

Members of the House will pass a bill this week to undo Obama's key climate rule for power plants, and while he is certain to veto the legislation, Republicans say it illustrates the fragile nature of his climate pledges.

"The president's international negotiating partners at that conference should proceed with caution before entering into an unattainable deal with this administration, because commitments the president makes there would rest on a house of cards of his own making," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wrote in an op-ed published by the Washington Post over the weekend.

Read more here and here.

CLIMATE AND TERROR CONVERGE: Obama had to take on two of the biggest challenges of his presidency Monday in Paris: climate change and terrorism.

While the trip's original focus was to be the United Nations climate conference, the recent terrorist attacks in the city hosting the talks took much of the president's attention.

Just after landing Sunday night, Obama went to the site of the worst Islamic State attack to lay a flower.

He also sought to tie the two major issues together in his trip.

"We salute the people of Paris for insisting this crucial conference go on -- an act of defiance that proves nothing will deter us from building the future we want for our children," Obama said at the conference.

"What greater rejection of those who would tear down our world than marshaling our best efforts to save it?"

Back home, Republicans and some Democrats have repeatedly attacked his actions on both climate and terrorism, and Obama has sought to go on the offense on both.

Read more here

EPA FINALIZES ETHANOL MANDATE: The Obama administration finalized three years of biofuels blending standards on Monday, bumping up the levels it proposed in May but still well below what lawmakers originally envisioned.

Under the Renewable Fuel Standard, oil refiners will be required to blend 18.11 billion gallons of biofuel into the gasoline supply in 2016, more than the 17.4 billion gallons originally proposed in May.

When lawmakers rewrote the RFS in 2007, though, they envisioned a standard of 22.25 billion gallons by next year.

Oil groups and the ethanol industry have waged a battle over the RFS, with the former calling for a lower biofuel standard and arguing it is already blending as much ethanol into its fuel as is possible.

But pro-RFS groups said the administration should move closer to what lawmakers proposed in 2007.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it received more than 670,000 comments on its RFS proposal since May, and defended the new rule on Monday.

The RFS "is one of many aspects of the climate policies that this administration is pursuing," said Janet McCabe, assistant administrator at the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation.

"Over time, there will be more and more choices in renewable fuels available to consumers."

Read more here.

PROGRESSIVES WANT HOUSE TO WEIGH IN ON CLIMATE: The Congressional Progressive Caucus, headed by Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) are backing a resolution to set strong national climate change priorities, on the day that the Paris talks launched.

The non-binding measure says that the United States should get half of its electricity from renewables by 2030 and all of it by 2050.

"As world leaders from more than 190 nations unite in Paris today around the common goal of addressing climate change, it is clear that the United States must lead now or risk being left behind," the lawmakers said in a statement about the resolution, which is largely symbolic and unlikely to get a vote in the GOP-controlled chamber.

"If we ignore the need for new and innovative energy to meet 21st century needs, those industries and jobs will ultimately develop in the nations that act without hesitation."

ON TAP TUESDAY I: The United Nations climate change conference in Paris presses forward. Obama is going to meet with leaders from various small islands about their unique circumstances regarding climate change, along with a press conference and a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. The Conference of the Parties -- the actual negotiations toward a deal -- will officially begin.

ON TAP TUESDAY II: The House is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a pair of resolutions aimed at overturning Obama's carbon dioxide limits for new and existing power plants. The votes on the measures sponsored by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) would send them to Obama's desk, following Senate votes earlier in November against the rules. But Obama has promised to veto the legislation.

Rest of Tuesday's agenda ...

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee meet to discuss offshore oil and gas drilling regulations. 

The House Science Committee will hold a hearing on the Paris climate talks.

Members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will testify at an Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing.

Jamie Reaser, the executive director of the Interior Department's National Invasive Species Council, will testify before a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee hearing about federal invasive species policy.

The District of Columbia Bar will hold a discussion on the Bureau of Land Management's contentious standards for hydraulic fracturing on public land, which a federal judge has put on hold. Interior Department lawyer Richard McNeer will speak, along with advocates supporting and opposing the rule.

AROUND THE WEB:

India led 120 countries Monday in announcing an alliance to expand access to solar power across the world, with a focus on the tropics, the Guardian reports.

A magnitude 4.7 earthquake hit near Medford, Okla., Monday morning, and was felt in Kansas, Texas and Missouri, the Weather Channel reports.

A mining company wants to expand its taconite pit in northern Minnesota, but environmentalists and tribes are raising concerns, MinnPost reports.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Monday's stories ...

-Pope Francis warns of global 'suicide' without climate action
-EPA unveils contentious ethanol fuel standard
-Play the climate change video game Rand Paul branded as wasteful
-McConnell knocks Obama on climate rules amid Paris talks
-Climate change, terrorism converge for Obama
-Poll: Two thirds want US to join international climate pact
-GOP rebuffs Obama's climate plans as UN conference starts
-Obama, Xi huddle during Paris climate talks
-Obama kicks off push for Paris climate deal
-Obama joins 19 countries to double clean energy funding

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