This Southern State Is the Country’s No. 1 Biggest Carbon Emitter

Jimmie Johnson shoots smoking pistols in the air

Jimmie Johnson shows polluters what it’s all about with some pistol smoke. | Tim Bradbury/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway

Climate change is a complicated subject. It’s not all about sinking cities and extreme heatwaves that could leave millions dead. There are real economic implications at play, as well. What we do today to try to alter our carbon dioxide emissions will create ripples in the economy. Those ripples will impact certain states more than others, especially those that tend to be among the country’s worst polluters.

Nobody wants to pollute, of course. But it’s merely a product of industry — especially when we’re talking about the energy sector. Those industries are very active in some states and less so in others. And as a result, emission levels will be higher in some places. Also, some states import a lot of fossil fuels for energy production. As such, developing a list of the country’s biggest polluters isn’t as easy as pointing to the states that mine the most coal, for example.

A report from M.J. Bradley & Associates — which was distributed in conjunction with Ceres, Bank of America, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Entergy, and Exelon — manages to take it all into consideration and give us an accurate ranking. The report ranks the states by total CO2 emissions and gives us an idea of which ones are the biggest polluters. Here are the country’s 15 worst states when it comes to CO2 emissions.

15. North Carolina

North Carolina is fairly populous but isn’t in an area we would traditionally call “coal country.” Though part of the state overlaps with the Appalachians, North Carolina, by and large, doesn’t share the same mindset as states, such as West Virginia or Kentucky. The state produces most of its power production from its three nuclear plants, but fossil fuels are still a part of the equation, according to the Energy Information Administration.

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