On December 14, the city council in Portland, Oregon, voted unanimously to set “the first stone in a green wall across the West Coast,” in the words of Mayor Charlie Hales. He was referring to a groundbreaking new zoning ordinance that effectively bans all new fossil-fuel-export infrastructure within the city’s limits—including new port facilities for shipping coal, and holding tanks for oil and natural gas—ad prevents existing facilities from expanding. The vote marks a hard-fought victory for local activists and environmental groups. And, in anticipation of the Trump administration’s pro–fossil fuel agent, it signals to other cities that innovative action to counter climate change is still possible at a local level.
Hales wasn’t always so supportive of building a “green wall” against fossil fuel exports. In fact, the two-year-long grassroos campaign that led to the new zoning ordinance began in opposition to Hales’ initial support for a $500 million propane export facility proposed by the $6 billion Pembina Pipeline Corporation, the largest pipeline company in the Canadian tar sands. Local opponents—who organized themselves into a group calling itself the Climate Action Coalition—bird-dogged Hales at local events, photo-bombing him with their protest signs. They posted a caricature of Mayor Hales with the name, “Fossil Fuel Charlie for Mayor,” at Portland State University’s campus and elsewhere around Portland. On Earth Day 2015, coalition members briefly took over City Council proceedings, showing quotes attributed to the various councilors in which they’d pledged to act swiftly on the climate crisis….Read the rest of this story at The Nation.