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President Obama will announce in a major policy speech on Tuesday afternoon that he’ll try to save the Earth by skipping over Congress — which has failed to pass much environmental legislation in recent decades — and use executive orders to regulate how much greenhouse gas existing power plants can produce, make appliances more efficient, increase the amount of renewable energy used on public property. The White House has been planning on Obama making this speech for weeks, The New York Times’ John M. Broder reports, “But the initiative is likely to be at least somewhat drowned out by a rush of competing and compelling news” — the Supreme Court, the National Security Agency’s collection of everyone’s phone calls, the immigration bill in Congress. But maybe that’s the point. Obama will do something about global warming at the exact moment he’s having to deny that he’s the urban liberal professor version of Dick Cheney.

Since the 2012 election, there hasn’t been a lot of good news for Obama’s liberal base. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was booed and heckled at Netroots Nation when she defended the NSA’s spying. Obama’s nominee to head the CIA was filibustered over the drone program, and he announced some changes that could allow some Guantanamo detainees to go home after a hunger strike at the facility grew to include more half the people imprisoned there. (Some detainees are still being force-fed, and the strike is still growing.) Environmentalists have frequently protested the Keystone XL pipeline in front of the White House. Obama’s speech on Tuesday, in which he will not reveal his decision on the pipeline, will give them something to seize on.

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