6.03.2007

Which states produce the most air pollution? The answer will surpise readers.

AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein (Blame coal: Texas leads carbon emissions, AP -6.2.07) has uncovered a number of surprising findings when he went to to find the biggest air poluting states in the county, including:

_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.

The big culprit is coal. For example:

Burning coal accounts for half of America's electricity. And coal produces more carbon dioxide than any other commonly used U.S. fuel source. The states that rely the most on coal — Wyoming, North Dakota, West Virginia, Indiana — generally produce the most carbon dioxide pollution per person, but also have the cheapest electric rates.
States that shun coal — Vermont, Idaho, California, Rhode Island — and turn to nuclear, hydroelectric and natural gas, produce the least carbon dioxide but often at higher costs for consumers.

Interesting, no?