After a week’s respite, The Numbers Racket returns this Tax Day Monday with a look at an issue that’s been front and center in both our national and statewide debate these last few weeks. With talk of a bailout for the nuclear industry in Harrisburg and arguments over the Green New Deal in Washington as a backdrop, we’re turning to some new data from the wonks at WalletHub, who have ranked the most — and the least — eco-friendly states in the country.
As WalletHub points out, in addition to avoiding the human and environmental costs of lax stewardship, there’s a massive financial interest in being responsible environmental stewards.
“In the past year, the U.S. has seen an especially devastating amount of natural disasters. And the U.S. was home to three of the world’s costliest disasters in 2018,” WalletHub observes. “Two of those were Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Florence, which racked up $16 billion and $14 billion in damage, respectively. Experts attribute the high number of hurricanes to unusually warm Atlantic waters, so it’s possible that living more sustainably and using greener energy sources could prevent us from having quite as bad hurricane seasons in the future.”
Mouse over the map for the state-by-state results:
By now, you’ve probably noticed that Pennsylvania finishes at a not-awful No. 24 nationwide in the WalletHub ranking, which was based on, among other things, individual states’ environmental quality, the eco-friendly behavior of their respective residents, and the states’ contribution to climate change. WalletHub’s number-crunchers worked some mathematical magic with those criteria, ranking the states on a scale where “a score of 100 [represents] the highest level of eco-friendliness.”
So, without further ado, here are the five greenest states in the nation:
- Vermont: The Green Mountain State scored 76.35 overall on the WalletHub scale. The home of Lake Champlain and great maple syrup finished at straight-up No. 1 for environmental quality, scored an impressive 3 for eco-friendly behavior by its residents, and notched a 25 score for its residents’ contribution to climate change.
2. New York: The Empire State finishes second in the WalletHub rankings list, with a total score of 75.49, going 3-8-3 for environmental quality, eco-friendly behaviors by its residents, and its overall contribution to climate change. We know there are some among you just waiting to make New York City jokes, so we’re going to turn away politely while you get that out of your system. For the rest of you, here’s a pretty photo of the Finger Lakes instead:
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3. Oregon: From the East Coast to the west: This state in the Pacific Northwest hits a 75.24 percent score overall (4 on environmental quality, 1 for the eco-friendly behavior of its residents, and 21 for its residents’ contributions to climate change). For that impressive finish, here’s a classic Portlandia video:
4. Connecticut: The Nutmeg State represents, notching an overall 73.89 (7 for environmental quality, 9 for eco-friendly behavior, and 1 for its residents’ contribution to climate change).
5. Minnesota: Just when you were wondering whether the Midwest was going to make the cut in the Top 5, the Badger State sneaks in under the wire. Minnesota scores an overall 73.13 on the WalletHub scale (going 2-4-19 on the criteria scale). And because it’s Minnesota, here’s some Prince:
Now, sadly, the five least eco-friendly states in the country:
1. Louisiana: Louisiana finishes 50th on the WalletHub scale, going 50 and 50 for environmental quality and the eco-friendly behaviors of its residents, and a 49 for its contribution to climate change. The Bayou State scored an overall 23.96.
2. West Virginia: Pennsylvania’s southwestern neighbor in the heart of Appalachia scores an overall 28.77 on the WalletHub scale (42 for environmental quality, 45 for eco-friendly behavior by its residents, and 50 for its contribution to climate change).
3. Kentucky: The Blue Grass State scores 32.23 overall on the WalletHub scale (scoring 49, 47, and 46 respectively on each of the three qualifying criteria).
4. Wyoming: Wyoming gets an overall score of 36.91 (38 for environmental quality, 44 for eco-friendly behavior from its residents, and 47 for its contribution to climate change). This perhaps not a surprise, since oil, gas, and coal mining are among The Cowboy State’s largest industries.
5. North Dakota: The Great Plains state rounds out the bottom five on the WalletHub list (46th among these United States), with an overall score of 37.90 (35, 36, and 48 respectively, on each of the three qualifying criteria). Pity, it does seem lovely there:
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