America’s Cleanest and Dirtiest Energy States

This post originally appeared on Modernize.com where you can find comprehensive solar information from industry experts. Frogs Are Green has permission to share this.

America's Cleanest and Dirtiest Energy States

America’s energy policy has been the subject of much recent debate: From the Pope’s public advocacy of environmental stewardship to the EPA’s toughened regulations on pollution from petroleum refineries, the sources that power our society have rarely been so widely scrutinized. Once regarded as a subject best left to the energy sector, the way we fuel our economy has proven its relevance for all citizens, both in America and across the globe.

For our team at Modernize, this subject seems particularly important. We’re dedicated to providing consumers information and opportunities related to one of clean energy’s most promising technologies: solar panels. Our primary interest is in helping individual readers to find environmentally friendly solar options that generate wallet-friendly savings in the long run.

But we’re also paying attention to how whole swaths of the American energy landscape operate. That’s where our project “America’s Cleanest and Dirtiest Energy States” comes in. If you want to know your state’s energy track record or find out which states are leading (and trailing) the push for renewables, you’re going to want to read what comes next.

Our Methodology

For this project, we went straight to the most authoritative source available on America’s energy realities. We gathered data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the federal agency responsible for tracking stats related to America’s energy production and consumption. Lucky for us, they’ve got data dating back to 1960 and as recent as 2013, so we took the long view on each state’s energy legacy. Our work engaged a range of subjects, from total energy production from renewable sources to carbon dioxide emissions over time. Take a look at what we found out:

Not Everything is Bigger in Texas…

Total Renewable Energy Production by State 1960-2013Let’s get something straight: “Renewable” energy sources run the gamut from hydropower to wind, solar, and more. The EIA includes biofuels, such as ethanol, in this category as well. That means that virtually any state can tap into renewables, though some types are more readily utilized in certain natural environments (for instance, the Midwest makes good use of its wind). But that also means oil- and coal-rich states like Texas and West Virginia have historically focused their efforts on sourcing energy from “fossil” fuels, so their output from renewables is relatively paltry.

To see each state’s exact numbers, check out the interactive map below:

And here are the top 10 producers of total energy from renewables:

Top 10 by Total Renewable Energy Production

Maybe Washington, California, and Oregon come as no surprise – we associate them with environmental concern and the geographical variety to embrace multiple renewable technologies simultaneously. But the rest of the states that top the renewables ranking embody a striking mix of size, population, political preference, and socioeconomic standing. If this ranking indicates anything, it’s that success with renewables is possible in any combination of circumstances.

Power Percentages

Now we know the score when it comes to the total volume of energy produced from renewables by state. But some states produce plenty of both, while others have pristine clean-energy records but fall short of the top 10 because their total production is too small to compete. So we also looked at how much of each state’s total energy production renewables account for – call these our Percentage Power Rankings:

Top 10 by Renewable Energy Percentage

Yes, you read that right: Rhode Island, Idaho, Hawaii, Delaware, and D.C. produce virtually all of their energy from renewable sources. Sure, that might be different if these states had been dealt a different hand in the distribution of natural resources (no one’s begging to drill outside Newport), but we can appreciate their commitment to renewable energy all the same. After all, necessity is the mother of invention – and as time goes on, more and more states may find themselves in need.

America's Dirtiest Energy States

Then there’s the cohort above, all of whom derived less than 2.5% of all the energy they produce from renewable sources from 1960–2013. The difference in reliance on renewables couldn’t be starker: Wyoming’s renewable portfolio accounts for roughly one in every 250 BTUs (British Thermal Units – oddly, no longer commonly used in the U.K.) that the state produces. Many of the constituents of this dirtiest energy ranking are too rich in coal and oil to need much in the way of renewable alternatives – but that doesn’t mean they won’t adopt more sustainable technologies in the coming years.

Pollution and Solutions

Perhaps the most concerning byproduct of fossil fuel energy production is pollution. That term covers many kinds of potentially harmful emissions, but the best-known variety is carbon dioxide. The EIA offers carbon dioxide data from 1990–2012, so we’ve tracked the worst emissions offenders over that time:

Top 10 CO2 Emitters by State

Predictably, Texas is at the top – but what about California or New York? Why do states that ranked high in renewable energy production make the list? The answer is simple: Carbon dioxide emissions aren’t just a function of energy production. It’s no accident that the top-ranked states are almost all quite populous; the more people, the more energy they consume. That translates to emissions resulting from cars, heat, and other comforts modern Americans depend upon in daily life. But don’t think emissions are an intransigent evil: Some states are making great strides.

10 Most Improved CO2 Emitters since 1990

Let’s take a moment to commend these states for what they’ve accomplished in just 22 years. New York, Michigan, and Ohio are particularly exciting cases, demonstrating that even states closely associated with major industry can reduce emissions substantially. Additionally, some of the states that ranked high in the percentage of energy generated from renewables appear on this list, making it clear that improvement can always be a priority, whatever you accomplish for the environment.

Speaking of improvement, let’s remember that your own home can contribute to the pursuit of new, clean technologies, no matter which state you live in. Whether it’s turning off the light when you walk out of a room or researching solar options that will also create savings, you can do a lot to promote a cleaner energy world. Who knows? If you and enough of your neighbors make the right choices, your state might just jump up on our cleanest states ranking!



Frogs and Toads at Sage Hill Herb Farm

I recently discovered Sage Hill Herb Farm in Petersburg, Tennessee and the owner, Bea Kunz.

About the Farm
Sage Hill Herb Farm consist of three acres under cultivation. A mix of wild flowers and grasses, much of those are native to Tennessee. Many raised beds which are always planted and growing vegetables and herbs along with fruit trees and berries for family and friends.

Their teas, herbs and seasoning blends are all carefully hand tended and organically grown without chemical pesticides or fertilizers.

They recommend that deep red or bright pink fruits and vegetables should be eaten every day. Nutrition research shows that foods in the red groups contain phytochemicals, such as lycopene and anthocyanins. Phytochemicals, substances found only in plants, help your body fight disease and promote good health.

Bogs and Frogs
And then there is the Bog! A beautiful and intriguing spot on the lower section of the back area where natural rock jutes through the ground. A wet weather stream keeps the area wet most of the time… providing a safe and natural habitat for frogs, toads and other little creatures who might come and go.

Below is a gallery shared by Bea of an American Toad, Green Tree Frog and Eastern Spadefoot and their natural habitat.

American Toad at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

American Toad at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Bog at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Bog at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Eastern Spadefoot frog at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Eastern Spadefoot frog at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Frog parking only, all others will be toad
Frog Habitat at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Frog Habitat at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Green Tree Frog at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Green Tree Frog at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Green Tree Frog at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

Green Tree Frog at Sage Hill Farm in Tennessee

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Green Ways to Keep Your Kitchen Germ-Free

Guest blog by Bryn Huntpalmer

Going green and eliminating germs is easier said than done, and you’re not alone if you feel like the majority of kitchen cleaners on store shelves contain harsh chemicals that are anything but environmentally-friendly. A few years ago, I decided to ditch the bleach and keep my kitchen clean with all-natural cleaners, and I couldn’t be happier. Here’s how to do it:


Clean with Natural or Non-toxic Cleaning Materials

Dishes, countertops, appliances, and any place that has seen a piece of raw meat needs cleaning and disinfecting. You can use natural materials to create cleaning products for any situation.

The basic ingredients for almost any type of non-toxic disinfectant are:

  • Vinegar
  • Lemon
  • Baking Soda
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Tea Tree, Orange, and Neem Oils
  • Grapefruit Seed Extract

Clean the refrigerator and countertops with baking soda. About a quart of warm water and a couple tablespoons of baking soda will give you a solution you can use to effectively clean quite a few things. Baking soda is actually a versatile substance. You can also use it to make a paste that can lift stains off cups and pans. Even better, when you’re done with the baking soda, you can pour it down the kitchen drain. It can help to get rid of and keep away bad drain odors.

Let your disposal unit grind down a lemon. Really, you can use any kind of citrus rind or peel to freshen the unit. You can also throw in some vinegar or baking soda (or both). Tossing in a few ice cubes can also help knock some debris off the disposal’s blade.

Add vinegar to the dish soap. You don’t need that fancy, overpriced dish soap. Get the cheapest brand you can find and simply add in a little vinegar (the ratio should be 10:1, with that smallest amount being vinegar). Vinegar cuts grease. And that’s just one of the things it does. Vinegar is really a miracle cleaner for your kitchen. For instance, you can clean your kitchen windows with vinegar. Just mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle.

Clean and freshen food prep areas. In a spray bottle, combine half a cup of white vinegar, 3 cups of water, and 10 drops of tea tree oil. Use this mixture to clean cutting boards, sinks, countertops, and other hard surfaces.

With these basic ingredients, there are almost an unlimited number of cleaning and disinfecting solutions you can make. You can use them in every part of your kitchen and all over the house. Just search for cleaning recipes involving any one of the listed things.

Even the solutions listed here aren’t the only way to accomplish any particular task. By cutting out the use of hazardous, chemical-based cleaners, you will make your kitchen clean, safe, and definitely green.

For more home tips and tricks, head to Modernize.com.