Green state rankings: See how California scores

July 30th, 2013 | by K Kaufmann | Comments

Toto, I don’t think we’re in the greenest state anymore.

A new map of green state rankings — How Green Is My State? – is out from the website MPHonline, a clearinghouse on master-degree programs in public health, and the results are surprising:

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All 50 states and the District of Columbia are ranked in seven areas of environmental and energy achievement – or lack thereof — mass transit (residents per method of mass transit), renewable energy, recycling, water quality (percentage of surface water with impaired or threatened uses), pounds of carcinogens released into the air, per capita gasoline use and CO2 emissions.

You can click on an individual state to see its see relative rankings in each of these areas or click the icons on top or arrow at the bottom to see each of the specific topic areas. The ranking button in the upper right corner of the map reveals all rankings for a particular metric.

But, however or wherever you click, when everything is added up in the overall rankings, Kansas emerges as the greenest state in the union, followed by Washington state at No. 2 and California at No. 3. On the other end of the list, Texas is dead last at No. 51, with Maryland at No. 50 and Mississippi, No. 49.

Needless to say, I took a closer look at Kansas, which has middling scores in most of the categories, but just kicks it on renewable energy, with 911,444 billion BTUs of wind energy and a growth rate in wind generation over the last decade of about 75 percent per year.

As of May this year, the state had produced 3,962 gigawatt hours of wind energy, compared to 5,119 gigawatt hours for all of 2012. It is on track to become a major exporter of wind energy to other states.

Meanwhile, California, for all our green laws and policies is hobbled by our large population.  Our sole No. 1 ranking is in recycling. We are No. 3 in renewable energy; No. 8 in per capita gas consumption — surprising and encouraging – and an embarrassing No. 50 in CO2 emissions.

On that count, no one beats Texas. The Lone Star state’s emissions are over 6.8 million metric tonnes per year, versus California’s 370,890 metric tonnes.

It would be helpful if the creators of the map, whoever they may be, had provided a little more information on their methodology, specifically how they combined rankings in individual areas to come up with overall scores.

There are, of course, are all sorts of ways to create green rankings — California regularly leads in solar, in venture capital investments in green tech and has more LEED-certified buildings than almost any other state.  Our per capita energy use has been stable for decades and remains one of the lowest in the nation, thanks to our rigorous green building code.

But the MPHonline choices make sense given the website’s perspective — these are the issues that most affect air and water quality, transportation and our health.

The more you click, the more there is to think about.


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