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How Pittsburgh embraced a radical environmental movement popping up in conservative towns across America

pittsburgh skyline
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

When President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the Paris climate agreement in June, he declared it was because he "was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris."

But Pittsburgh didn't vote for Trump, and many in the city didn't agree with his decision to pull out of the global accord. In fact, Pittsburghers have embraced the environmental movement head-on in their efforts to keep the city clean following the heavy pollution left behind from the heyday of the steel industry.

One of those efforts is a growing movement that some call radical, known as rights of nature. It awards natural ecosystems legal rights in an effort to preserve the environment and protect human health.

Pittsburgh took up the mantle in an effort to keep hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, out of the city in 2010.

The Pittsburgh City Council passed the measure in a unanimous vote, and Ben Price, National Organizing Director from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), who introduced the campaign to the city, told Business Insider that at every neighborhood meeting he attended, he didn't meet a single resident who was against the idea.

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