In a report released on May 13, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) presents data on energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for each state by year, fuel, sector, and other breakouts for the years 2000 through 2010.

The EIA notes that energy-related CO2 emissions vary significantly across states. Overall size of a state, available fuels, types of businesses, climate, and population density all play a role in both total and per capita emissions. The term "energy-related carbon dioxide emissions" as used in the analysis includes emissions released at the location where fossil fuels are used, not where they are produced.
During the decade covered by the report, CO2 emissions fell in 32 states and rose in 18 states. However, from 2009 to 2010, only 14 states saw a decrease in emissions, as the U.S. was rebounding from the recession and energy consumption increased in most states, along with emissions. In 2010, Texas had the highest emissions while Vermont had the lowest.

CO2 emissions vary even for states that have similar fuel emissions profiles due to factors such as the use of different fuels for electricity generation, climate, and sources of economic outputs. For example, in Vermont the largest share of emissions in 2010 came from the transportation sector (58.7%), predominantly from petroleum, but the electric power sector share is small (0.1%) because of Vermont’s reliance on nuclear power. Vermont’s residential sector share was 22.1%—indicative of a relatively cold climate where petroleum is the main heating fuel.

Here are some of the other highlights of State-Level Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions, 2000-2010:

  • The greatest percentage decrease in CO2 emissions occurred in Delaware at 27.9% (4.5 million metric tons).
  • The greatest absolute decline was 58.8 million metric tons in Texas (8.3%).
  • New York experienced a decline of 38.6 million metric tons (18.3%).
  • The greatest percentage increase was in Nebraska at 16.0% (6.6 million metric tons).
  • Colorado experienced the greatest absolute increase (11.8 million metric tons or 13.9%).

In 2010, Wyoming had the highest per capital level of CO2 emissions while New York had the lowest (not counting the District of Columbia). As the EIA explains, in the state of New York, “A large portion of the population is located in the New York City metropolitan area where mass transit is readily available and most residences are multi-family units that provide efficiencies of scale in terms of energy for heating and cooling. The New York economy is oriented towards high-value, low-energy-consuming activities such as financial markets. For example, in 2010 New York contained 6.3 percent of the U.S. population, but consumed only 1.1 percent of the country’s industrial energy. New York’s energy prices are relatively high (the average retail electricity price of 16.41 cents per kWh was third highest in the country in 2010), which in turn encourages energy savings.”

The EIA also publishes monthly estimates of nationwide CO2 emissions from the consumption of energy,  short-term projections of nationwide energy-related CO2 emissions, and projections of energy-related CO2 emissions to 2040.

Gail Reitenbach, PhD is managing editor of POWER. An earlier version of this story was published on May 16 in POWERnews.