Rex Parris, the three-term Republican mayor of Lancaster, California, is no squishy liberal. “I believe when you walk out the door of your home, you should be safe. I think capitalism is the best economic system we have available, and the United States should have the strongest military in the world.”
But when it comes to climate change, Parris calls it “the greatest threat facing the human race since the beginning of time.” He’s a rarity in a party in which nearly all presidential candidates in the 2016 race denied the existence of man-made climate change or the need to halt fossil-fuel production.
Parris has broken ranks with the denialists by signing a “no new fossil fuels infrastructure” pledge. Prior to the Paris climate summit in December, a dozen mayors from Santa Barbara, California, to Vancouver, British Columbia, and more than 20 other elected officials endorsed a prohibition on exporting oil, coal, and natural gas through the region. The pledge is inspired by a resolution passed by the city of Portland, Oregon, in November that relies on local powers over public safety, health, and land zoning to obstruct the siting of fossil fuel export terminals.