I hate the idea that I am in the state that was just named “No. 1 in carbon dioxide emissions” by the AP. THIS is why we need more solar and wind energy and a lot less coal.
Dubious honor: Texas No. 1 in carbon dioxide emissions
WASHINGTON — America may spew more greenhouse gases than any other country, but some states are astonishingly more prolific polluters than others — and it’s not always the ones you might expect.
The Associated Press analyzed state-by-state emissions of carbon
dioxide from 2003, the latest U.S. Energy Department numbers available. The review shows startling differences in states’ contribution to climate change.
The biggest reason? The burning of high-carbon coal to produce cheap electricity.
—Wyoming’s coal-fired power plants produce more carbon dioxide in just eight hours than the power generators of more populous Vermont do in a year.
—Texas, the leader in emitting this greenhouse gas, cranks out more
than the next two biggest producers combined, California and
Pennsylvania, which together have twice Texas’ population.
—In sparsely populated Alaska, the carbon dioxide produced per person
by all the flying and driving is six times the per capita amount
generated by travelers in New York state.
“There’s no question that some states have made choices to be greener
than others,” said former top Energy Department official Joseph Romm,
author of the new book “Hell and High Water” and executive director of
a nonprofit energy conservation group.
The disparity in carbon dioxide emissions is one of the reasons there
is no strong national effort to reduce global warming gases, some experts say. National emissions dipped ever so slightly last year, but
that was mostly because of mild weather, according to the Energy
“Some states are benefiting from both cheap electricity while polluting
the planet and make all the rest of us suffer the consequences of
global warming,” said Frank O’Donnell, director of the Washington
environmental group Clean Air Watch. “I don’t think that’s fair at all.”
He noted that the states putting out the most carbon dioxide are doing the least to control it, except for California.
Several federal and state officials say it’s unfair and nonsensical to
examine individual states’ contribution to what is a global problem.
“If the atmosphere could talk it wouldn’t say, ‘Kudos to California,
not so good to Wyoming’,” said assistant energy secretary Alexander
“Andy” Karsner. “It would say, ‘Stop sending me emissions.'”
Some coal-burning states note that they are providing electricity to customers beyond their borders, including Californians. Wyoming is the largest exporter of energy to other states, Gov. Dave Freudenthal told The Associated Press.
He said two-thirds of the state’s carbon footprint “is a consequence of
energy that is developed to feed the rest of the national economy. That
doesn’t mean that somehow then it’s good carbon, I’m just saying that’s
why those numbers come out the way are,” Freudenthal said.
And the massive carbon dioxide-spewing and power-gobbling refineries of Texas and Louisiana fuel an oil-hungry nation, whose residents whine
when gasoline prices rise.
However, some of the disparities are stunning.
On a per-person basis, Wyoming spews more carbon dioxide than any other state or any other country: 276,000 pounds of it per capita a year, thanks to burning coal, which provides nearly all of the state’s electrical power.
Yet, just next door to the west, Idaho emits the least carbon dioxide per person, less than 23,000 pounds a year. Idaho forbids coal power plants. It relies mostly on non-polluting hydroelectric power from its
Texas, where coal barely edges out cleaner natural gas as the top power
source, belches almost 1 1/2 trillion pounds of carbon dioxide yearly.
That’s more than every nation in the world except six: the United States, China, Russia, Japan, India and Germany.
Of course, Texas is a very populous state. North Dakota isn’t, but its
power plants crank out 68 percent more carbon dioxide than New Jersey, which has 13 times North Dakota’s residents.
And while Californians have cut their per-person carbon dioxide
emissions by 11 percent from 1990 to 2003, Nebraskans have increased their per capita emissions by 16 percent over the same time frame.
Officials in Wyoming, North Dakota and Alaska say numbers in their
states are skewed because of their small populations. But Vermont,
Rhode Island and the District of Columbia are similar in size and have
one-12th the per-capita emissions of Wyoming.
A lot of it comes down to King Coal.
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