The Environmental State of The Union: A Survey of Pollution, Energy Use and Policy in all 50 States

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20. Oklahoma
Population: 3,687,050 (28th)
GDP: $153.7 Billion (29th)
Toxic Waste: 41,874 Tons (20th)
Carbon Footprint: 109.3 Million Metric Tons (31st)
Alternative Energy: 8.3% (18th)

Oklahoma ranks fifth in oil production and third in natural gas production.  The state still manages to rank 14th for conventional hydroelectric energy and 11th for wind. It also has one of the worst scores in the RSEI toxic exposure index, ranking 43rd.

21. New Mexico
Population: 2,009,671 (36th)
GDP: $74.8 Billion (37th)
Toxic Waste: 1,078,672 Tons (44th)
Carbon Footprint: 58.6 Million Metric Tons (16th)
Alternative Energy: 5.3% (Tied for 25th)

New Mexico ties for seventh in The Pew Center’s list of energy efficiency programs, beating out all southwestern states. “The Land of Enchantment,” as it’s called, also performs above average in most pollution categories, and ranks seventh in toxic chemicals dumped into waterways. However, the state generates more than one million tons of toxic waste per year, the third-highest amount in the country.

22. Massachusetts
Population: 6,593,587 (15th)
GDP: $365.1 Billion (13th)
Toxic Waste: 32,471 Tons (15th)
Carbon Footprint: 79.9 Million Metric Tons (22nd)
Alternative Energy: 5.7% (23rd)

Massachusetts’ ranking benefits greatly from the state’s progressive public policy.  ACEEE rates it the highest of any state both for financial incentives with regards to energy conservation, and energy-saving targets.  The state has trouble enforcing green behavior at times, however.  Since 2000 there have been 1,337 hazardous waste violations by businesses, the 39th worst in the country.  The state also ties for 45th worst ozone pollution.

Click on the Graph to see a full-size chart.

U.S. Energy Information Administration's Renewable Energy Consumption and Electricity Preliminary Statistics (2009)

23. Arkansas
Population: 2,889,450 (32nd)
GDP: $101.8 Billion (34th)
Toxic Waste: 273,192 Tons (34th)
Carbon Footprint: 63.7 Million Metric Tons (17th)
Alternative Energy: 11.2% (13th)

In general, Arkansas tends to rank between 30th and 40th in most metrics. The state performs particularly poorly in water pollution and policy. Arkansas is 42nd in carcinogenic chemical dumping (50,000 lbs. in a year) and receives one of the worst scores in solar policy. The only significant positive notes on Arkansas is that the state ranks 13th in total energy output that is from alternative sources (11.2%) and that it ranks 11th in particle pollution.

24. Utah
Population: 2,784,572 (34th)
GDP: $112.9 Billion (33rd)
Toxic Waste: 59,448 Tons (22nd)
Carbon Footprint: 69.2 Million Metric Tons (20th)
Alternative Energy: 2.1% (Tied for 43rd)

Utah has a greater amount of particulate matter in its air than any other state.  This is due in large part to the state’s immense mining industry.  When it comes to dealing with environmentally dangerous material, however, the state does fairly well.  For instance, Utah ranks 22nd out of all 50 states for most hazardous waste generated.  With regards to EPA violations over dealing with this waste, there have only been 86 since 2000, the second lowest amount in the country.