Overnight Energy: Obama climate envoy dismisses GOP pushback

A STERN TALKING TO: Republican efforts to derail the climate change deal talks in Paris aren't working, a top Obama administration official said.

Referring specifically to the votes against the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) climate rules for power plants, Todd Stern, the State Department's special envoy for climate change, dismissed the GOP's push.

"I don't actually think that has much of an effect here," Stern told reporters in Paris.

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"It produces questions, so I have had countries ask me about, but what I have said is that the Clean Power Plan rule is going to go forward," he said.

He spoke the day after the House passed a pair of measures under the Congressional Review Act to block implementation of the carbon dioxide limits for existing and new power plants.

Stern said he's received one or two questions from other diplomats at the meeting about the votes, but he explains that President Obama will veto the measures.

He was also optimistic about Obama's pledge to the Green Climate Fund, which totals $3 billion, but starts with $500 million next year.

"The discussions about appropriations for this year, the budget discussions, are very much a live proposition," he said. "We have pledged $500 million for this year. We're hoping to get as close to it as we can, but we don't know yet."

Read more here.

'DEFLATEGATE' LAWYER TO EXXON: ExxonMobil Corp. has retained the lawyer famous for the NFL's "Deflategate" investigation to defend the company during inquires into its scientific research.

Ted Wells and a partner will represent Exxon in New York's investigation into the company's climate science.

Wells has previously worked with Exxon on other environmental defense matters, but his highest-profile client of late has been the NFL, which commissioned him to investigate whether the New England Patriots intentionally deflated footballs to gain an advantage in the AFC title game earlier this year.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating whether Exxon misled the public about its research into climate change.

Also this week, Columbia University defended the team of journalists who lead the reporting on Exxon's research.

Exxon had questioned the team's work on the matter in a letter to administrators in November. The dean of Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism fired back, saying "I have concluded that your allegations are unsupported by evidence."

The conservative website The Daily Caller noted Wednesday that the school only recently began disclosing its funding sources.

Read more here.

ON TAP THURSDAY I: The Hill hosts an event on microgrid technology in the United States. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) will participate, along with industry experts. Follow along here.

ON TAP THURSDAY II: The House will vote on final passage of a Republican energy overhaul bill. Members began considering a slate of amendments to the bill on Wednesday.

Rest of Thursday's agenda...

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, the 1980 law that set forth the general regime for land management in Alaska. Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) and state Senate Majority Leader John Coghill (R) will testify, along with representatives of various interest groups.

The House Energy and Commerce environment and the economy subcommittee will hold a hearing on the Nuclear Waste Fund. Congressional Budget Office officials will testify.

The House Science Committee will hold a hearing on a bipartisan bill to carry out more nuclear reactor research and development at the Energy Department's national laboratories. John Kotek, head of the department's nuclear office, will be a witness.

The United Nations climate conference continues in Paris.

AROUND THE WEB:

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), facing a tough reelection fight, said Tuesday that she opposes a controversial natural gas pipeline proposed for southern New Hampshire, the Union Leader reports.

Tests commissioned by the Associated Press found that the waters around Rio de Janeiro, Brazil -- which will host the Summer Olympics next year -- are extraordinarily polluted, far above the levels that would cause closures in the United States, even far offshore.

China is planning to slash by 60 percent the major pollutants from its power sector by 2020, Reuters reports.

Bill Nye ("the Science Guy") offers his take on climate change, via National Geographic.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Wednesday's stories ...

-Franken to travel to Paris for UN climate talks
-House lines up energy bill amendments on oil exports, pipeline permits
-New York AG calls for tougher oil train rules
-Climate envoy: GOP votes aren't hurting Paris talks
-RSC lays out tax credits wish list
-Exxon hires 'Deflategate' lawyer for climate investigation

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