The 20 Greenest Cities in the US

©. Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, California (Photo: JateWirunto/Shutterstock)

While the federal government may be turning its back on the environment, these American cities are stepping up.

These are strange times we are living in. While most species seem interested in their survival, some humans seem bent on wrecking the very habitat in which we live. Like, can you imagine a troop of gorillas intentionally setting fire to the vegetation in their home range, leaving them without food and shelter? No, yet here we are. A New York Times analysis finds that the Trump administration has so far trashed, or is in the process of trashing, more than 80 environmental rules and regulations. To be exact, as of last month, they have completed 53 rollbacks – including relaxing rules for air pollution and revoking a rule preventing coal companies from dumping mining debris into local streams, to name just two. And another 32 rollbacks are in process.

But thankfully, individual cities are stepping up where the federal government is failing us. And it makes sense; greener cities are nicer to live in. They are healthier and offer a better quality of life, among other attributes, not the least of which is that they strive to address the climate crisis.

Also of note, new research finds that local efforts to lessen envirnmental stressors are as important as global efforts to reduce fossil-fuel emissions.

So with all of this in mind, a shout-out to the greenest cities is in order. Which leads us to personal finance site WalletHub, which compared the 100 largest American cities across 28 key indicators of sustainability, across four areas: Environment, transportation, energy sources, and lifestyle and policy. The metrics include everything from air quality index and walking/biking scores to water quality, greenspace, and plastic bag bans. Here is how our fair metropolises fared.

The greenest cities in the U.S.

1. San Francisco, California
2. San Diego, California
3. Irvine, California
4. Washington, DC
5. San Jose, California
6. Seattle, Washington
7. Fremont, California
8. Sacramento, California
9. Portland, Oregon
10. Oakland, California
11. Minneapolis, Minnesota
12. Honolulu, Hawaii
13. Buffalo, New York
14. Chula Vista, California
15. Boston, Massachusetts
16. San Bernardino, California
17. St. Paul, Minnesota
18. Madison, Wisconsin
19. Los Angeles, California
20. Austin, Texas

It may not be that surprising to see seven of the top 10 located in California – a state that has been a leader in environmental policy. Also not surprising that wealthy cities have the privilege of being able to afford the cost and focus of addressing sustainability issues. But kudos to all the others as well for doing their part in fighting the good fight. If federal leadership is steering us toward a dirtier, less livable planet, at least local governments are doing their part to combat the madness.