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State and Local Climate and Energy Program

Types of Communities

Who can benefit from using this website?

EPA resources are designed for local governments as well as tribal and territorial governments.

The U.S. government recognizes tribes as sovereign governments that exercise self–determination and the right to self–government. This government–to–government relationship is different than the Federal relationship with states, local governments or territories.

U.S. territories are self-governing, while Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands have Commonwealth status and are treated similar to states.

Local governments play an active and important role in addressing climate change. Each type of government jurisdiction uniquely complements climate change mitigation efforts underway at the state, national, and international levels.

EPA’s Local Climate and Energy Program provides technical assistance and resources appropriate for a range of governments, including the government communities described below. Based on their priorities and jurisdiction, potentially relevant climate and energy activities for each local government are suggested below. When developing a climate change mitigation strategy, pursuing multiple complementary climate actions can maximize greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation.


There are 566 federally recognized Native American governments in the United States. Renewable Energy may be a feasible option for some tribes since it represents an opportunity to promote self-sufficiency, economic growth, and employment by generating electricity on tribal lands. Tribes may be interested in multiple other climate change mitigation Topics, but are also concerned with Impacts and Adaptation; some are already experiencing the effects of climate change. Additional resources relevant to tribes can be found on the Tribal Climate and Energy Information.

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City and town governments are responsible for the climate and clean energy efforts of municipalities ranging in size from a few hundred people up to several million. These governments have unique opportunities to reduce GHG emissions through a variety of Local Government Activities, including Leading by Example in Government Operations and Engaging Stakeholders in other sectors within the community.

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County governments encompass a wide range of communities, ranging from rural counties to urban and suburban agglomerations. Counties can achieve GHG reductions through efforts to improve Air Quality and reduce criteria air pollutants. Some counties are responsible for planning and zoning, which provide a number of opportunities for GHG mitigation through Land Use and Transportation policies. These jurisdictions vary widely in their authorities and responsibilities, and the options available to reduce GHG emissions may be dictated by their individual circumstances.

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Regional governments such as councils of government (COGs) and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) work to coordinate the activities of a broad geographic area. The scope and role of these multi-jurisdictional organizations can vary greatly between regions. The coordinating role of multi-jurisdictional governments lends itself to regional GHG agreements, regional Transportation and Land Use planning, congestion mitigation, and other broad initiatives that cut across town and city boundaries.

U.S. Territories

U.S. territories encompass a wide range of communities, both small and large, and a corresponding range of government types. Because U.S. territories are islands, which may be affected by sea level rise and more intense storms, territorial governments have a special interest in climate change Impacts and Adaptation. Territorial governments may also experience high costs for transporting fossil fuels to the island, therefore generating an interest in producing Renewable Energy.

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Rural is generally defined as an area outside of urban centers with a population of less than 50,000. For rural communities, biomass—a low-cost, domestic source of Renewable Energy —is an example of an appropriate GHG mitigation option that integrates well with rural livelihoods and economies. Additional climate change mitigation Topics may also complement the needs of rural communities.

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