Some U.S. states, such as those in the Northwest, have made great strides in renewable energy production. Image by: Modernize.

The Cleanest Energy States and Dirtiest Energy States in America

No matter how “green” you try to be in your day-to-day life, your state may actually be working against you. With America’s energy policy becoming a huge area of debate in recent years, most people do not realize how eco-friendly or non-eco-friendly their states really are. The company Modernize recently set out to find out the cleanest and dirtiest states in the nation.

Some U.S. states, such as those in the Northwest, have made great strides in renewable energy production. Image by: Modernize.
CLICK TO ENLARGE. Some U.S. states, such as those in the Northwest, have made great strides in renewable energy production. Image by: Modernize.

The team at Modernize, a company that focuses on energy-efficient upgrades, such as solar panels, went directly to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, or the EIA, to gather green data on all of the states. The EIA is a federal agency that tracks statistics associated with the country’s energy production and consumption; it is the most authoritative resource for information on the nation’s energy. As part of its project, Modernize looked at the energy legacy of every state by examining data on the emissions of carbon dioxide as well as the production of energy from renewable sources from 1960 to 2013. (Renewable sources include solar power, wind energy, and even biofuels, such as ethanol.)

According to the research, the top 10 states for renewable energy production–or, the cleanest energy states in America–are:

  • Washington
  • California
  • Oregon
  • New York
  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • Tennessee
  • North Carolina
  • Iowa
  • Florida

For the top states by renewable energy percentage, Rhode Island tops the list, followed by Idaho, Hawaii, Delaware, Washington D.C., Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, Nevada, and Maine.

Washington and Oregon are clearly the winners here, as they made both of the lists of the greenest states. The prevalence of renewable energy usage in these states may not come as a surprise, though, as these states–along with California–are often associated with environmental concern as well as the ability to take advantage of many green technologies simultaneously. The other states on these lists are a mystifying mixture of socioeconomic standing, political preference, population and size, thus proving that the usage of green technology is indeed possible in a wide range of circumstances.

The biggest state by area in the Continental United States, Texas, made neither list; in fact, it is considered one of the top 10 dirtiest energy states in the country. According to Modernize, this goes to show that “not everything is bigger in Texas.” In addition, as you’ll see below, not everything is sunny and golden in the Sunshine State (Florida) or the Golden State (California). Here are the 10 states that emit the most carbon dioxide, which is contributing to global climate change.

  • Texas
  • California
  • Pennsylvania
  • Ohio
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Louisiana
  • New York
  • Michigan

The above list is much to be expected, as most of these states are very populous; more people naturally consume more energy. The bottom states by renewable energy percentage are Wyoming, New Mexico, Alaska, West Virginia, Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Utah, and Kansas. (Note that Texas and Louisiana made both of the lists of the dirtiest energy states.)

Certain states, however, deserve to be commended for making huge strides in reducing their carbon dioxide emissions during the past 22 years: New York, Michigan, and Ohio. Modernize’s research proves that through a concerted effort, even states that are tied to major industry have the potential to be greener. If more people make improvement in this area a priority, the world truly can be a healthier place for generations to come.

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