Blame Coal: Texas Leads Carbon Emissions
Saturday, June 2, 2007; 12:45 PM
WASHINGTON -- America may spew more greenhouse gases than any other country, but some states are astonishingly more prolific polluters than others _ and it's not always the ones you might expect.
The Associated Press analyzed state-by-state emissions of carbon dioxide from 2003, the latest U.S. Energy Department numbers available. The review shows startling differences in states' contribution to climate change.
The biggest reason? The burning of high-carbon coal to produce cheap electricity.
_Wyoming's coal-fired power plants produce more carbon dioxide in just eight hours than the power generators of more populous Vermont do in a year.
_Texas, the leader in emitting this greenhouse gas, cranks out more than the next two biggest producers combined, California and Pennsylvania, which together have twice Texas' population.
_In sparsely populated Alaska, the carbon dioxide produced per person by all the flying and driving is six times the per capita amount generated by travelers in New York state.
"There's no question that some states have made choices to be greener than others," said former top Energy Department official Joseph Romm, author of the new book "Hell and High Water" and executive director of a nonprofit energy conservation group.
The disparity in carbon dioxide emissions is one of the reasons there is no strong national effort to reduce global warming gases, some experts say. National emissions dipped ever so slightly last year, but that was mostly because of mild weather, according to the Energy Department.
"Some states are benefiting from both cheap electricity while polluting the planet and make all the rest of us suffer the consequences of global warming," said Frank O'Donnell, director of the Washington environmental group Clean Air Watch. "I don't think that's fair at all."
He noted that the states putting out the most carbon dioxide are doing the least to control it, except for California.
Several federal and state officials say it's unfair and nonsensical to examine individual states' contribution to what is a global problem.
"If the atmosphere could talk it wouldn't say, 'Kudos to California, not so good to Wyoming'," said assistant energy secretary Alexander "Andy" Karsner. "It would say, 'Stop sending me emissions.'"