This past summer, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the Clean Power Plan which sets customized goals for each state to reduce carbon emissions by 2030. It’s all in an effort to curb carbon pollution from power plants across the nation. Many states, including Vermont, have already taken action and are well on their way towards addressing this issue, but sadly, many states either lack the resources or initiative to enact positive change.
Enter Earthjustice—the nation’s original and largest nonprofit environmental law group. Thanks to the interactive map Earthjustice has created, it’s easy to learn just how your state stacks up against the rest in the push towards clean energy. The state-by-state breakdown is truly an eye-opener to just how large the clean energy divide is in the United States, and exposes the untapped energy potential that exists within our borders.
These States are Some of the Greenest:
The following states are renewable energy all-stars, already on track to meet or exceed the goals of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.
- A pioneer in renewable energy that is leading the U.S. towards a cleaner future.
- 3rd in the U.S. for wind power production.
- 1st in the U.S. for installed solar capacity.
- In 2013, the state increased its wind generation by 37% and more than doubled its total solar capacity over 2012.
- Highest residential energy prices in the nation.
- Its Green Energy Market Securitization program helps residents finance solar and energy efficiency projects.
- Ranks 6th in the U.S. for solar power with 1 in 9 homes energized by the sun.
- Striving to hit 29% renewables by 2015 (one of the most aggressive goals in the U.S.).
- Nearly cut in half its carbon emissions from the power sector between 2005-2012.
- However, it is vying to resurrect three coal-fired plants (a battle Earthjustice is helping to fight).
- Home to one of the largest wind farms in the U.S.
- Tripled renewable energy generation between 2007-2012.
- A state with low carbon emissions and hardline clean energy mandates.
- Aggressively working towards 25% renewable energy by 2025.
These States are Seriously Lagging Behind:
The following are a few of the least green states, several with seemingly no clean energy ambition at all.
- Home of the 2nd dirtiest power plant in the U.S. (Alabama Power Co.’s James H Miller, Jr. Plant spews the carbon equivalent of 4.3 million cars annually).
- One of 12 states suing the EPA for its plan to limit carbon pollution from coal-fired plants.
- Zero wind or solar installations, and zero ambition to build a renewable energy program.
- Largest emissions increase of any state, rising 35% between 2005-2012 (meanwhile, 43 states reduced emissions).
- Coal is its primary power source.
- Untapped solar and wind potential and zero clean energy ambition.
- Home of the dirtiest power plant in the U.S. (owned by Georgia Power Co., the plant belches the carbon equivalent of 4.4 million cars annually).
- Cut emissions by 35% between 2005-2012, but by transitioning from one fossil fuel, coal, to another, natural gas.
- On a positive note, it has increased solar development in the past few years.
- 2nd most coal-reliant state in the nation.
- The state did enact legislation in 2008 establishing a 30% state income-tax credit for certain solar, wind, and geothermal installations.
- However, they are also against the EPA’s proposals to limit power plant carbon emissions.
- No renewable energy goals.
- 3rd largest increase in power-sector carbon emissions from 2005-2012.
- Heavily reliant on coal and nuclear power.
- National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that 92% of the state has suitable conditions for wind power.
- Instead of tapping into its potential, it is suing the EPA over the Clean Power Plan.
- No renewable energy goals.
How Does Our Home State of Vermont Stack Up?
We are proud to say that the Green Mountain State is indeed very green. A member of the top ten greenest states according to Earthjustice’s study, Vermont is revered as a leader in the clean energy movement. In fact, Vermont is so far ahead of the curve that the EPA has excused it altogether from the Clean Power Plan since the state has zero dependence on fossil fuel power plants. In December, the state closed a 40-year history of heavy reliance on nuclear power with the shutdown of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. Moving forward, policymakers are setting aggressive goals to source 90% of total energy, including electricity, heating and transportation, from clean, renewable energy by 2050.
Learn More & Get Involved
The fight for a clean energy future involves us all. No matter where your state stands, we hope this has piqued your interest in examining the work of Earthjustice and its interactive map in more detail. Whether it is protecting people’s health, conserving wild places, or combating climate change that you are interested in, we urge you to join the Earthjustice community to learn more about its work and ways you can take action.