Texas has a reputation for being the nation's biggest producer of carbon dioxide emissions, with 650 million metric tons of carbon pollution in 2011, but Wyoming is No. 1 in carbon emissions per person. The following map, based on new data from the Energy Information Administration, shows all states' 2011 per-capita carbon emissions across residential, commercial, transportation, electric power, and industrial sectors:
Wyoming has a population of less than 600,000, but it is a huge coal producer for the country, supplying 40 percent of the coal. It relies on coal for 85 percent of its electricity. And the EIA counts carbon emissions where the fuel is first used, so that means even if the coal is burned to provide electricity to another state, it counts as Wyoming's. The state's small population means its own electricity demand is relatively low. So the state is a net exporter of electricity, sending almost two-thirds of the electricity it produces to nearby states.
The major role coal plays in the state's economy is the reason Wyoming is fighting the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed rule to cut carbon from coal-fired power plants. Facing a 26 percent cut to its power plant emissions by 2030, Wyoming has joined more than a dozen states in filing a lawsuit to stall the rule. It's no coincidence that three of the five states with the most emissions per capita (Wyoming, West Virginia, and Louisiana) are the same coal-reliant states suing the EPA. North Dakota, also a major natural gas and coal producer, is second in emissions.
Rebecca Leber is a staff writer for The New Republic.