Some of the smaller population, major energy producing states top the list of highest carbon dioxide emissions per capita. Carbon dioxide is a major greenhouse gas. I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS compared 2011 carbon emissions per state released by the Energy Information Administration with U.S. Census data on state population estimates. The analysis confirmed that neighboring Wyoming, the least populated state in the nation, had the highest per capita carbon dioxide emissions, with 112.3 metric tons of carbon per resident.
Mead Gruver of The Associated Press broke the news of Wyoming’s standing in the EIA report in a story from Cheyenne. “Turns out the worst state for carbon dioxide emissions per person isn’t smoggy California or bustling New York, but a place famous for its big, clear skies: Wyoming,” he wrote.
But Gruver did offer the explanation. Wyoming is not only the nation’s top coal mining state, burning coal to produce electricity accounted for 69.2 percent of Wyoming’s CO2 emissions, twice the U.S. average. Wyoming exports to other states about 68 percent more of that electricity than it consumes in state, according to the AP story. Colorado was in the middle pack of states in carbon emissions per capita, ranking 22nd highest by producing 17.8 metric tons per person, according to the EIA report and I-News analysis. After Wyoming, energy booming North Dakota came next at 78.4 metric tons per person, and then Alaska was third at 53 metric tons per person. West Virginia was fourth at 51.7 and Louisiana rounded out the top five with 48.7. The bottom five were New York, Vermont, California, Connecticut and Oregon, all between 8 and 9.4 metric tons per capita.