Since when does the U.S. State Department have any authority over environmental quality? Since President Barack Obama decided he, and he alone, has the right to make critical decisions for all Americans, that's when.
In a major speech recently, Obama vowed to establish new regulations on coal-fired power plants, in the name of fighting climate change. He admitted he decided to do so because Congress would not go along with his war on coal.
On a related issue, his administration's blocking of permits for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to bring Canadian oil to the U.S., Obama made it clear he has not been candid in the past.
Permits for the pipeline have been blocked by the State Department, with the White House insisting the agency - which is supposed to handle only diplomacy - is acting on its own initiative. Yet Tuesday, Obama said he has instructed the State Department not to allow the pipeline if doing so would increase emissions of greenhouse gases.
Approval probably would mean fewer emissions than the alternative, shipping the Canadian oil to China. But that is not supposed to be a State Department concern.
In revealing his order, Obama has made it more clear than ever that in some ways, he intends his edicts to be the law.
That smacks of an imperial presidency - of the type against which our system of government is supposed to protect Americans.