Yesterday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released the analysis, State-Level Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions, 2000-2010. Energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions vary significantly across states (Figure 1), whether considered on an absolute or per capita basis. The overall size of a state, as well as the available fuels, types of businesses, climate and population density play a role in both total and per capita emissions. Additionally, each state’s energy system reflects circumstances specific to that state. For example, some states are located near abundant hydroelectric supplies, while others contain abundant coal resources. This paper presents a basic analysis of the factors that contribute to a state's CO2 profile. This analysis neither attempts to assess the effect of state policies on absolute emissions levels or on changes over time, nor does it intend to imply that certain policies would be appropriate for a particular state.
The term "energy-related carbon dioxide emissions" as used in this paper, includes emissions released at the location where fossil fuels are used. For feedstock application, carbon stored in products such as plastics are not included in reported emissions for the states where they are produced.
It is also important to recognize that the state-level CO2 emissions data presented in this paper count emissions based on the location where the energy is consumed as a fuel. To the extent that fuels are used in one state to generate electricity that is consumed in another state, emissions are attributed to the former rather than the latter. An analysis that attributed "responsibility" for emissions with consumption rather than production of electricity, which is beyond the scope of the present paper, would yield different results.
Between 2000 and 2010, CO2 emissions fell in 32 states and rose in 18 states. However, from 2009 to 2010, only 14 states saw a decrease in emissions, as the U.S. was rebounding from the recession and energy consumption increased in most states, along with emissions.
Over the time period from 2000 to 2010, CO2 emissions fell in 32 states and rose in 18 states, according to Figure 1. The greatest percentage decrease in CO2emissions occurred in Delaware at 27.9 percent, (4.5 million metric tons). The greatest absolute decline was 58.8 million metric tons in Texas (8.3 percent). New York experienced a decline of 38.6 million metric tons (18.3 percent). The greatest percentage increase was in Nebraska at 16.0 percent (6.6 million metric tons), while Colorado experienced the greatest absolute increase (11.8 million metric tons or 13.9 percent).
From 2009 to 2010, only 14 states saw a decrease in emissions. The U.S. was rebounding from the recession and emissions from consumption of energy was up in most states. Because of differences in data aggregations it is difficult to compare the total for all states with the total for the U.S.
Emissions by Fuel
States exhibit very different emissions profiles by fuel type, according to Figure 2. For example, in 2010, coal consumption accounted for 80.8 percent of CO2emissions in West Virginia. In California, 65.2 percent of CO2 emissions came from petroleum, while only 1.4 percent came from coal. Rhode Island had no emissions from coal consumption, but 46.1 percent of its emissions were from natural gas. Vermont's share of CO2 emissions from petroleum was 92.5 percent and Hawaii’s share was 91.4 percent in 2010. No other states exceeded 80 percent in terms of the share of emissions from petroleum; Maine's petroleum share was 75.6 percent.
Emissions by Sector
There can also be significant variations in terms of carbon dioxide emissions by sector—even for states that have similar fuel emissions' profiles. These variations are due to factors such as the use of different fuels for electricity generation, climate and sources of economic outputs (e.g., commercial versus industrial activity). For example, in Vermont the largest share of emissions in 2010 came from the transportation sector (58.7 percent), predominantly from petroleum, but the electric power sector share is small (0.1 percent) because of Vermont's reliance on nuclear power. Vermont's residential sector share was 22.1 percent—indicative of a relatively cold climate where petroleum is the main heating fuel. Hawaii, where a dominant share of emissions is also from petroleum, has a residential share of 0.3 percent—the lowest in the U.S. because of minimal heating and cooling requirements. The largest sector emissions share in Hawaii, like Vermont, was from the transportation sector (49.3 percent). However, unlike Vermont, Hawaii’s electric power sector share nearly as high (40.1 percent). The dominant fossil fuel for the generation of electricity in Hawaii is petroleum.
Another useful way to compare total CO2 emissions across states is to divide them by state population and examine them on a per capita basis. Many factors contribute to the amount of emissions per capita, including: climate, the structure of the state economy, population density, energy sources, building standards and explicit state policies to reduce emissions. The 2010 CO2 emissions in Wyoming were 118.5 metric tons per capita, the highest in the U.S. In 2010, Wyoming was the second largest energy producer in the U.S. Unlike the largest energy producer, Texas, that has a population of 25 million, Wyoming has less than 600 thousand people giving Wyoming the lowest population density in the lower-48 states. Its winters are cold (the average low temperatures in January are in the 5 to 10 degree Fahrenheit range). These factors act to raise Wyoming's per capita emissions compared to other states. The second highest state per capita CO2 emissions level was North Dakota at 80.4 metric tons per capita. Alaska (54.6 metric tons per capita), West Virginia (54.2 metric tons per capita) and Louisiana (49.3 metric tons per capita) round out the top five states in terms of per capita carbon dioxide emissions. All of these are fossil-energy-producing states. The activity of producing energy is itself energy intensive.
The state of New York, with a population of 19.6 million people, had the lowest per capita CO2 emissions—8.8 metric tons per capita. A large portion of the population is located in the New York City metropolitan area where mass transit is readily available and most residences are multi-family units that provide efficiencies of scale in terms of energy for heating and cooling. The New York economy is oriented towards high-value, low-energy-consuming activities such as financial markets. For example, in 2010, New York contained 6.3 percent of the U.S. population, but consumed only 1.1 percent of the country's industrial energy. New York's energy prices are relatively high (the average retail electricity price of 16.41 cents per kWh was third highest in the country in 2010), which in turn encourages energy savings. The second lowest per capita carbon emitting state (9.7 metric tons per capita) was Vermont. As mentioned above, Vermont had almost no emissions from its electric power sector. Other states with relatively low per capita emissions rates include: California (9.9 metric tons per capita), Idaho and Oregon (both 10.4 metric tons per capita).
Carbon Intensity of the Energy Supply
The carbon intensity of energy supply (CO2/Btu) is reflective of the energy fuel mix within a state. As with energy intensity, the states with high carbon intensity of energy supply tend to be the states with high per capita emissions. The top five states in 2010 for the energy carbon intensity as measured in kilograms of CO2 per million Btu (kg CO2/MMBtu)—West Virginia (81.7 kg CO2/MMBtu), Kentucky (77.2 kg CO2/MMBtu), Wyoming (76.8 kg CO2/MMBtu), Indiana (75.1 kg CO2/MMBtu) and North Dakota (73.6 kg CO2/MMBtu)—are all states with coal as the dominant fuel. The national average carbon intensity of the energy supply in 2010 was 57.6 kg CO2/MMBtu. The states with lower carbon intensity tend to be those states with relatively substantial non-carbon electricity generation such as hydropower or nuclear. These states include, for example, Vermont (34.5 kg CO2/MMBtu), Washington (37.4 kg CO2/MMBtu), Oregon (39.1 kg CO2/MMBtu), Idaho (41.2 kg CO2/MMBtu) and New Hampshire (41.5 kg CO2/MMBtu).
Carbon Intensity of the Economy
Another measure, the overall carbon intensity of the economy (CO2/dollar of state Gross Domestic Product, GDP), combines energy intensity with the carbon intensity of that energy supply. As one would expect, the states with the highest carbon intensity of their economies as measured in metric tons of CO2 per million dollars of state GDP (mt CO2/million dollars of GDP) are also the states with the highest values of energy intensity and carbon intensity of that energy supply. In 2010 these states included: Wyoming (1,886 mt CO2/ million dollars of GDP), West Virginia (1,767 mt CO2/ million dollars of GDP) North Dakota (1,681 mt CO2/ million dollars of GDP), Louisiana (1,145 mt CO2/ million dollars of GDP), and Montana (1,098 mt CO2/ million dollars of GDP). The 2010, U.S. average is 430 mt CO2/ million dollars of GDP. The states with the lowest carbon intensity of economic activity are also states that appear on the lower end of both energy intensity and the carbon intensity of that energy supply. These states include: New York (167 mt CO2/ million dollars of GDP), Connecticut (175 mt CO2/ million dollars of GDP), Delaware (209 mt CO2/ million dollars of GDP), Massachusetts (213 mt CO2/ million dollars of GDP), and California (214 mt CO2/ million dollars of GDP).
Because this analysis does not account for electricity trade, it is important to understand how much this can influence a state's CO2 emissions profile. The Net Electricity Trade Index indicates whether a state is self sufficient in the generation of electricity in a given year (a value of 1.0), is a net importer of electricity in a given year (a value of less than 1.0), or is a net exporter of electricity in a given year (a value greater than 1.0). Over half of the 10 states with the highest per capita emissions the states are net exporters of electricity in at least some years. In particular, Wyoming, North Dakota, West Virginia and Montana are large electricity exporters of power produced predominantly with coal. New Mexico is also a net exporter of electricity. Oklahoma is a net exporter, but its dominant fuel is natural gas. Indiana is a small exporter in some years, but was export-neutral in 2009 and 2010. Kentucky, like Indiana is a coal-fueled generation state, but has been export-neutral in recent years. Louisiana, the only state of high per capita emitters that is consistently a net importer of electricity, and Alaska a state that is an importer in some years, but export-neutral in most, are both fossil-fuel producing states with a large energy-intensive component of their economies.
Four of the 10 states with the lowest per capita CO2 emissions are consistent importers of electricity: Idaho, California, Massachusetts and Florida. Rhode Island was an electricity exporter in 2001 and was self sufficient in 2000, 2008, 2009 and 2010. In the other years Rhode Island was an importer of electricity (about 40 percent in 2004). Idaho generates its electricity principally with hydroelectric power and has historically imported 50 percent or more of its electricity from other states. California consistently imports about 30 percent of its electricity and natural gas is the dominant fuel for the electricity that it generates internally. Both Massachusetts and Florida also use natural gas as the dominant fuel for electricity generation.
New York, which is self sufficient many years and a slight importer in other years, generates a dominant share of its electricity with nuclear power. Vermont, which is a consistent exporter of electricity, is also a state dominated by nuclear power generation. Connecticut, also a nuclear power producer, is a slight exporter in some years, an importer in others and self sufficient in yet others. Both Oregon and Washington are usually either self sufficient or net exporters. However, in 2001, which was a particularly bad year for hydroelectric generation in the Pacific Northwest, both states were net importers of electricity.
If the emissions associated with the generation of electricity were allocated to the states where that electricity is consumed, in many cases, the emissions profiles of both the producing and consuming states would change.
The EIA also publishes monthly estimates of nationwide CO2 emissions from the consumption of energy as well as other short-term projection reports. There are also projection reports available of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions through 2040 on the EIA website.
Visit EcoWatch’s CLIMATE CHANGE page for more related news on this topic.
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By D. André Green II
One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="91165203d4ec0efc30e4632a00fdf57d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KilPRvjbMrA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Rescue Attempt<p>To preempt the need for this kind of regulation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/Monarch%20CCAA-CCA%20Public%20Comment%20Documents/Monarch-Nationwide_CCAA-CCA_Draft.pdf" target="_blank">Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies</a>. Under this plan, "rights-of-way" landowners – energy and transportation companies and private owners – commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century.</p><p>The agreement was spearheaded by the <a href="http://rightofway.erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank">Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group</a>, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago's <a href="https://erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Resources Center</a>, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control "rights-of-way" corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration.</p><p>Under the plan, partners voluntarily agree to commit a percentage of their land to host protected monarch habitat. In exchange, general operations on their land that might directly harm monarchs or destroy milkweed will not be subject to the enhanced regulation of the Endangered Species Act – protection that would last for 25 years if monarchs are listed as threatened. The agreement is expected to create up to 2.3 million acres of new protected habitat, which ideally would avoid the need for a "threatened" listing.</p>
A Model for Collaboration<p>This agreement could be one of the few specific interventions that is big enough to allow researchers to quantify its impact on the size of the monarch population. Even if the agreement produces only 20% of its 2.3 million acre goal, this would still yield nearly half a million acres of new protected habitat. This would provide a powerful test of the role of declining breeding and nectaring habitat compared to other challenges to monarchs, such as climate change or pollution.</p><p>Scientists hope that data from this agreement will be made publicly available, like projects in the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/MCD.html" target="_blank">Monarch Conservation Database</a>, which has tracked smaller on-the-ground conservation efforts since 2014. With this information we can continue to develop powerful new models with better accuracy for determining how different habitat factors, such as the number of milkweed stems or nectaring flowers on a landscape scale, affect the monarch population.</p><p>North America's monarch butterfly migration is one of the most awe-inspiring feats in the natural world. If this rescue plan succeeds, it could become a model for bridging different interests to achieve a common conservation goal.</p>
The annual Ig Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for scientific experiments that seem somewhat absurd, but are also thought-provoking. This was the 30th year the awards have been presented, but the first time they were not presented at Harvard University. Instead, they were delivered in a 75-minute pre-recorded ceremony.