Is Your State Eco-Conscious or Careless?

Politics appears to play a role in a state’s environmental awareness.

(Image: Wallethub/Facebook)

Apr 21, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Taylor Hill is an associate editor at TakePart covering environment and wildlife.

When it comes to environmental practices, liberal “blue states” are largely doing better at increasing clean energy use, recycling, and cutting climate-altering carbon pollution than conservative or “red states.”

These and other findings are part of a new ranking of state-by-state “eco-friendliness” from Wallethub, a personal finance social network. With Earth Day approaching, the company took its data-driven approach to comparing financial products and applied it to the environmental realm.

The results rank how all 50 states perform on 14 indicators, such as water or arable soil conservation, energy consumption, recycling rates, total number of certified green buildings, and more.

Eco-friendly Rankings by State:

Vermont topped the list as the most eco-friendly state in the nation, followed by Oregon, New York, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Washington, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Hawaii.

Wallethub ranked Louisiana as the country’s least eco-friendly state, with Texas, Kentucky, Indiana, Alabama, West Virginia, Delaware, Oklahoma, and Wyoming rounding out the bottom 10.

The main factors that gave Democratic-leaning states the edge over Republican states were the number of green buildings, energy usage, and “definitely gas consumption,” said Wallethub spokesperson Diana Popa.

“The financial side of the environment really stretches from cases like Hurricane Sandy, which required spending $70 billion in rebuilding to combating climate change [impacts] like sea level rise,” Popa said, “and down to an individual’s wallet—like gas consumption, alternative fuels, and energy choices.”

Among the more noteworthy findings, Wallethub’s rankings determined that:

  • Hawaii has three times more municipal solid waste per capita than Missouri.
  • Maine recycles 48 times more of its municipal solid waste than Louisiana.
  • New York’s per capita carbon footprint is 14 times higher than Wyoming’s.
  • Oregon consumes 20 times more energy generated by renewable sources than Delaware.
  • Per capita, New Mexico has seven times as many alternative-fuel vehicles on the road as West Virginia.
  • The percentage of people who do not drive to work is three times higher in New York than in Alabama.

The data Wallethub used to compile the rankings came from government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Energy Information Administration, and the U.S. Geological Survey, Popa said, as well as independent organizations, such as Green Building Council.

Protecting the environment can be a good business decision, according to Douglas McCauley, a biology professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “A common problem, however, is that the costs of abusing the health of the environment are only realized on long time scales,” he said in a statement. “Use of dirty chemicals or fuels, for example, may help a company’s bottom line in 2015 but can end up costing communities or countries a great deal to clean up at the time scale of decades.”