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Find Out Which State Contributes Most to Climate Change

Climate

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the 2013 figures for its Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, now in its fourth year. These figures show which states, as well as which industry sectors and which individual businesses, produce the most climate change-inducing greenhouse gas emissions. The undisputed winner—or loser, if you prefer—is Texas, with its well-established oil drilling industry and its rapidly growing fracked gas sector.

With its extensive oil drilling and gas fracking industries, Texas leads the nation in greenhouse gas emissions.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Moyers & Company reporter John Light writes, "Texas also produces and consumes more energy than any state in the union. The energy Texas creates comes largely, but not entirely, from its oil and natural gas reserves. And the state’s biggest consumers of energy are the refining and chemical industries, which, in many cases, support the state’s fossil fuel extraction efforts and have some of the most energy-intensive operations in the US."

Texas far outpaced second-place finisher Indiana with more than double the amount of emissions. Texas produced more than 442 million metric tons of emissions; Indiana produced just under 260 million tons. Rounding out the top five were Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Ohio. On a per capital basis, Wyoming was the leader, with North Dakota and West Virginia not far behind. All three states have extensive fossil fuel extraction industries.

Power plants were the top source of greenhouse gas emissions with more than 1,500 plants spewing 2.1 billion tons of carbon emissions, almost a third of the country's carbon pollution. Two huge power plants in the southeast led by a long shot, with the Scherer Steam Generating Plant outside Macon, Georgia, first with 22.3 metric tons of emissions, followed by Birmingham, Alabama's James H. Miller Jr. power plant with 21.9 million tons.

Texas produces and consumes more energy than any state in the union. Photo credit: Moyers & Company

The EPA's survey also found that while emissions declined from 2011-2013, they ticked up again slightly in the latest reporting. Both the decline and uptick were tied to declines and upticks from power plants. It found that power plant emissions have declined almost 10 percent since 2010, despite a small increase (0.6 percent) in the latest reporting.

Climate change, fueled by greenhouse gas pollution, is threatening our health, our economy and our way of life—increasing our risks from intense extreme weather, air pollution, drought and disease,” said U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “EPA is supporting the President’s Climate Action Plan by providing high-quality greenhouse gas data to inform effective climate action.”

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A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

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At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.