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

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25. Maryland
Population: 5,699,478 (19th)
GDP: $286.7 Billion (15th)
Toxic Waste: 33,684 Tons (16th)
Carbon Footprint: 77.9 Million Metric Tons (24th)
Alternative Energy: 5.5% (24th)

Maryland earns the honor of being placed directly in the middle of our ranking and, while it averages evenly, it is due to a case of extremes. Points to the state’s credit include tying for 11th on the Pew list of energy efficiency policies, placing 6th for EPA toxic waste violations (only 136 since 2000) and, most impressively, having the 5th smallest level of toxic dumping into state waterways. Maryland suffers, however, from poor air quality (42nd in ozone and 38th in particle pollution) and alternative energy production that is below-average both as a percentage of the state’s total output and in gross kilowatt hours.

26. Connecticut
Population: 3,518,288 (29th)
GDP: $227.4 Billion (23rd)
Toxic Waste: 21,148 Tons (13th)
Carbon Footprint: 40.2 Million Metric Tons (11th)
Alternative Energy: 4.2% (29th)

Connecticut is generally an environmentally friendly state.  It is within the top 15 for the majority of categories considered for this list, and even received the second highest score offered by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.  One area where the state does extremely poorly, however, is air quality.  The American Lung Association places Connecticut at 45th for ozone levels and 48th for levels of airborne particulates.

27. Wisconsin
Population: 5,654,774 (20th)
GDP: $244.3 Billion (21st)
Toxic Waste: 223,441 Tons (32nd)
Carbon Footprint: 104.4 Million Metric Tons (30th)
Alternative Energy: 5.3% (Tied for 25th)

Considering it is in the bottom half of our list, Wisconsin performs quite well in policy initiatives and programs, ranking at least 22nd in every category. The state is fourth in utility alternative energy targets, pledging 10% by 2015, and has the best score for financial incentives  for individuals to improve energy efficiency. The state’s shortfalls are in areas like toxic exposure, where it ranks 38th, and toxic waste violations, where the state ranks 41st, with more than 1,300 violations since 2000.

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

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

28. Nebraska
Population: 1,796,619 (38th)
GDP: $86.4 (36th)
Toxic Waste: 28,187 Tons (14th)
Carbon Footprint: 43.9 Million Metric Tons (13th)
Alternative Energy: 1.9% (45th)

Nebraska has a number of positive environmental features.  It has the lowest levels of ozone in its air, for instance, and the eighth lowest amount of particulates in the air. The state has not made significant attempts at greener policy, however, and is ranked 46th for energy efficiency by the ACEEE. The state also suffers from some serious forms of pollution.  In 2007, more than 17 million pounds of toxic chemicals were released into Nebraska’s waterways.  This was the third greatest amount in the country for that year.  The fourth greatest amount, which was released in Texas, was just over 13 million pounds.

29. New York
Population: 19,541,453 (3rd)
GDP: $1.09 Trillion (3rd)
Toxic Waste: 1,032,626 Tons (42nd)
Carbon Footprint: 201.3 Million Metric Tons (42nd)
Alternative Energy: 21.4% (9th)

New York is another state with stellar policy scores, but these policies have not yet yielded results, as the state is dreadful in nearly every other category besides alternative energy generation. New York is sixth on the Pew list of policies, fourth on ACEEE energy efficiency scorecard, second in energy-saving targets, and tied for first in solar power policy, utility financial incentives, and energy use reduction targets. However, New York is also 39th in carcinogenic chemicals dumped, 42nd in toxic waste generation ( more than 1 million tons in a year) and carbon emissions (194 million metric tons). The Empire State is also 47th in EPA toxic waste violations.