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Portland's Answer to Climate Denial? Local Action

Mayor Charlie Hales talks to CityLab about regulating fossil fuels at the local level and organizing cities to take meaningful climate action on their own.
Portland, Oregon's Mayor Charlie Hales is pushing for local-level climate action leadership in the wake of the U.S. presidential election.
Portland, Oregon's Mayor Charlie Hales is pushing for local-level climate action leadership in the wake of the U.S. presidential election.Don Ryan/AP

As cities around the U.S. consider how they’ll battle climate change in the Trump years, Portland, Oregon, Mayor Charlie Hales sees plenty of room for local governments to lead the way. Facing a federal government in climate denial, he says, cities can still flex their zoning codes.

“Cities can declare things, and that’s nice and helpful, but when you put it into your zoning code, that’s the ultimate authority of local government,” Hales tells CityLab. “Frankly it’s an authority that is very difficult for the federal government, or anyone else, to trample on. ...[It’s] the law of the land, and that’s local control as it should be.”