The personal finance site Wallet Hub has released its greenest states report for 2021, just in time for Earth Day. While the results aren’t shocking — with Vermont in the lead and five Southern states lagging at the tail end — they’re still interesting to peruse.
Wallet Hub used 25 key metrics to compare the 50 states. The most heavily weighted metrics were air quality, soil quality, water quality and energy-efficiency score. Climate change contributions — carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated green-house gas emissions — also counted for a lot. The rest of the score came from a longer list of eco-friendly behaviors, such as average commute time by car, certified organic farms per capita and electronic waste recycling programs.
High-scorer Vermont got 76.66 out of a possible 100 points. The Green Mountain State was tops in environmental quality and eco-friendly behaviors, but ranked 32nd in climate-change contributions. New York (75.93), Massachusetts (74.08), Maryland (73.51) and California (72.90) filled the other top five spots. If you’re in suspense, Connecticut (69.64), which placed ninth overall, leads the way in climate-change contributions.
As for the losers, West Virginia leads the hall of shame with a paltry 18.77 points. It placed 50th for both environmental quality and climate-change contributions and 47th for eco-friendly behaviors. Other low-ranking states are Louisiana (26.34), Mississippi (34.70), Alabama (36.01) and Kentucky (38.17).
The results reveal that some states have a lot to be proud of, but every state has room for improvement. Despite placing in the top five, California was 50th in air quality. Thanks, wildfires and L.A. traffic. Soil quality is hugely different, with Wisconsin (16th place and 65.62 points overall) having 25 times better soil than tied losers Arizona (48th place, 50.08) and New Mexico (36th place, 50.59). Although you can’t totally fault these desert states for not topping the greenest list.
People probably won’t be surprised to learn that the Democratic-led states were more eco-friendly than Republican-dominated states. Blue states averaged a rank of being in about 14th place, while red states averaged 36th. See the full study results here.
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