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Wyoming Remains Highest CO2 Emitter Per Capita In U.S.

State Carbon Dioxide Emissions Data
U.S. Energy Information Administration

Wyoming’s carbon dioxide emissions per person decreased 10 percent from 2005 to 2015 but the state still has the highest emissions level in the country. According to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), Wyoming’s CO2 emissions are seven times the national average. Emissions levels are calculated based on electricity use, transportation, and consumption for homes, businesses, or factories. 

Wyoming isn’t alone in its reduction; every state in the U.S. other than Louisiana and Nebraska saw emission declines per capita. Perry Lindstrom, senior energy and environment analyst at EIA, said two major contributing factors to shifts in emissions are structural economic changes and increasing energy efficiency. Lindstrom explained that as economies grow, their energy needs change.  

“They open up a restaurant or whatever, they’re less energy intensive than the base industries,” Lindstrom said. "That tends to reduce your per capita rate as you divide over a larger population.”  

Lindstrom also pointed to improving technology that allows less energy to be used for daily needs like heating.  

"People do get more efficient and certainly often in the vehicles they drive, people might be insulating their houses, there are various factors,” Lindstrom said. 

Wyoming remains the highest CO2 emitter per capita, followed by North Dakota, with a 7 percent decrease, and West Virginia, with a 20 percent decrease. In 2014, Wyoming ranked 30th in overall carbon dioxide emissions, according to the EIA. Lindstrom said the full analytical report for 2015 will be coming out in a few weeks.

Before Wyoming, Cooper McKim has reported for NPR stations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. He's reported breaking news segments and features for several national NPR news programs. Cooper is the host of the limited podcast series Carbon Valley. Cooper studied Environmental Policy and Music. He's an avid jazz piano player, backpacker, and podcast listener.
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