5. Albuquerque, N.M.
> Long-term pollution score: 5.6
> Population: 887,077
> Population density: 95.6 people per square mile
The share of nonfarm employment in the manufacturing sector is just 4.8% in Albuquerque — significantly less than the national share of 9.0%. Albuquerque has among the cleanest air in the country as measured in both short-term and year-round particle pollution. Just one year ago, the metropolitan area was ranked much lower for year-round pollution and was not even ranked among the 25 cleanest for short-term pollution.
4. Tucson, Ariz.
> Long-term pollution score: 5.4
> Population: 980,263
> Population density: 106.7 people per square mile
Tucson’s long-term pollution score is the fourth best in the country, after being third best in last year’s report. Tucson also was one of the cities reporting no unhealthy days of pollution between 2007 and 2009. In March, 6.5% of the region’s employment was in manufacturing, compared to a national level of roughly 9%. The city also had a larger leisure and hospitality sector than the U.S. average.
3. Prescott, Ariz.
> Long-term pollution score: 5.0
> Population: 211,033
> Population density: 26.0 people per square mile
Prescott, Arizona, has one of the lowest rates of population density in the country. It also has a smaller manufacturing sector relative to the size of its overall economy than the U.S. has. From 2007 to 2010, the metropolitan region has not recorded a single day of unhealthy levels of air pollution.
2. Cheyenne, Wyo.
> Long-term pollution score: 4.2
> Population: 91,738
> Population density: 34.1 people per square mile
Cheyenne, Wyoming, is easily the smallest city to make the Cleanest Cities in America list. It is also one of the smallest and most spread out of the largest metropolitan areas in the country. Cheyenne is one of the 79 cities that did not have a single day of unhealthy particle pollution levels between 2007 and 2009. According to the BLS, manufacturing accounts for just 3.3% of the city’s economy, barely more than a third of the national average of about 9%.
1. Santa Fe-Española, N.M.
> Long-term pollution score: 4.1
> Population: 184,416
> Population density: 75.5 people per square mile
The Santa Fe-Española metropolitan area ranks best for year-round particle pollution, moving up from second-place in last year’s report. From 2007 to 2010, not a single day with an unhealthy air pollution level was recorded. The metropolitan area is one of only two cities to rank either best or among the best for year-round particle pollution, short-term particle pollution and ozone air pollution. Santa Fe’s biggest industries, such as tourism and government, are hardly “dirty.” Additionally, New Mexico has particularly strict emissions standards.
-Michael B. Sauter, Charles B. Stockdale