Daily digest

Obama gives Congress an ultimatum on climate change

SOTU: President Obama last night pledged to use executive authority to tackle climate change if Congress doesn’t act, proposed an “Energy Security Trust” to use revenues from oil and gas drilling to research clean energy, and promoted energy efficiency in homes and commercial buildings. (The Hill, Washington Post)

THE FULL TEXT and video of the speech can be found here.

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IN RESPONSE: House Republicans say the Energy Security Trust is “a non-starter,” and Republicans in the Senate warn Obama could face public backlash if he bypasses Congress on climate (as we noted in our analysis yesterday, Congress hasn’t passed a major energy bill since 2007). (The Hill, Midwest Energy News)

MEANWHILE: Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the “designated survivor” (who sits out the State of the Union in case of disaster) was in Ames, Iowa to discuss climate change. A University of Iowa professor says Obama’s clean-energy emphasis “won the hearts of Iowans,” and a 22-year-old wind technician from Iowa sat with the First Lady during the speech. (Iowa State Daily, Iowa City Press-Citizen, Des Moines Register)

COAL: Natural gas is disrupting coal markets outside the electricity sector, and a credit agency warns of more bankruptcies in the U.S. coal industry. (Midwest Energy News, International Business Times)

NORTH DAKOTA: OSHA warns Oil Patch operators to review safety procedures after 12 workers were killed in the state’s oil fields last year, and a state Senate committee gives a “do not pass” designation to a bill that would curb flaring of natural gas. (Bismarck Tribune, Associated Press)

FRACKING: Uncertainty about the lifespan of new wells makes it difficult to project U.S. natural gas potential, and Ohio regulators propose tougher rules for dealing with radioactive waste from drilling operations. (EnergyWire, Akron Beacon Journal)

WIND: Developers of an Indiana wind farm say they’ll place turbines “significantly beyond” setbacks required by local officials, and research continues into a possible wind farm atop a Michigan wastewater site. (Kokomo Tribune, Muskegon Chronicle)

MINNESOTA: Gov. Mark Dayton appoints Nancy Lange, a clean energy policy advocate, to the state’s Public Utility Commission. (MinnPost)

COMMENTARY: A call for Minnesota to take the lead on frac sand research, and how conservatives’ war on renewable energy laws could harm the economies of red states. (Rochester Post-Bulletin, Salon)

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