Special Report

The Most Eco-Friendly States in America

Source: Gray Watson User:E090 / Wikimedia Commons

11. Connecticut
> Energy generated from renewable sources: 3.4% (6th lowest)
> Energy generated from fossil fuels: 47.3% (14th lowest)
> Green industry employment: 17.6% (21st highest)
> Avg. daily particle pollution: 8.5 ug/m3 (17th lowest)

Connecticut is now one of the 18 states that have adopted the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). The code’s goal is to provide a model for efficiency in the buildings sector. This was the second code update in the state in the last two years.

The state’s Clean Energy Fund, a public benefits fund, raises private investment to sponsor renewable and clean energy development across Connecticut. The state is ranked by the ACEEE as having the fifth strongest set of policies related to energy efficiency.

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10. South Dakota
> Energy generated from renewable sources: 75.1% (4th highest)
> Energy generated from fossil fuels: 24.9% (6th lowest)
> Green industry employment: 15.3% (8th lowest)
> Avg. daily particle pollution: 8.1 ug/m3 (12th lowest)

South Dakota generates 75.1% of its electricity from renewable sources — primarily wind and hydroelectricity. Vermont, Washington, and Idaho are the only states that derive a larger share of their electricity from renewable sources. There are over 600 wind turbines in South Dakota, and four of the six major dams along the Missouri River are located in the state.

South Dakota has not always been a national leader in green energy production. Thanks in part to some public policy initiatives, electricity generated through coal in the state fell from 52% of total production to 21% over the last 10 years.

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9. Maryland
> Energy generated from renewable sources: 9.8% (23rd lowest)
> Energy generated from fossil fuels: 45.0% (13th lowest)
> Green industry employment: 20.5% (7th highest)
> Avg. daily particle pollution: 10.4 ug/m3 (11th highest)

Maryland is one of only nine states where more than 20% of the labor force works in jobs that improve or minimize damage to the environment. Additionally, one in every four commuters get to work using environmentally friendly means like walking or public transit. Partially as a result, Maryland ranks among the five states with the lowest petroleum consumption rates per capita.

Nuclear power is relatively environmentally friendly as its generation produces far less greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels. Maryland’s Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant accounts for 44% of the state’s energy production, and only five states rely more on nuclear power than Maryland.

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Source: departmentofenergy / Flickr

8. Massachusetts
> Energy generated from renewable sources: 10.0% (24th lowest)
> Energy generated from fossil fuels: 73.1% (19th highest)
> Green industry employment: 20.7% (6th highest)
> Avg. daily particle pollution: 9.1 ug/m3 (22nd lowest)

In the ACEEE 2018 Energy Efficiency Scorecard, Massachusetts has the highest state energy efficiency score — 44 out of 50 — of all states. The score measures policies on utility, transportation, building efficiency, combined heat and power, state government initiatives, and appliance efficiency standards.

The state’s Three-Year Energy Efficiency Plan sets a fuel-neutral savings target by 2021. About $220 million will be invested in gridside modernization technologies to improve efficiency of energy production. The state’s goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.

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7. New York
> Energy generated from renewable sources: 28.7% (13th highest)
> Energy generated from fossil fuels: 38.0% (8th lowest)
> Green industry employment: 19.0% (10th highest)
> Avg. daily particle pollution: 9.5 ug/m3 (23rd lowest)

Though New York’s renewable energy profile is not as strong as some of the most eco-friendly states, the state ranks high for having some of the most eco-friendly energy conservation policies, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. In April 2018, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans to accelerate the state’s green energy goals to include a 40% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and an 80% reduction by 2050. Part of the plan includes an announced $36.5 million in clean energy job training.

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