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Idaho’s Carbon Footprint Up, But Remains Low Nationally

U.S. Energy Information Administration

The U.S Energy Information Administration studiedthe amount of carbon dioxide that was pumped into the atmosphere between 2000-2010. Idaho contributes a low amount, respectively, compared to other states. Only California, Vermont, New York and Washington D.C. have smaller carbon footprints per capita.

But Ben Otto at the Idaho Conservation League says this report doesn’t show the full picture.

“Idaho’s always going to look better than most states because we have fewer people than most states, and we’re a little bit less industrialized," Otto says. "Then if you imagine Ohio or Illinois with big manufacturing bases and lots of people; we’re never going to have the same emissions as those states.”

Otto points out that the EIA only looked at sources of carbon within Idaho.  He says Wyoming – the state with the highest per capita emissions – provides power to Idaho from burning coal. But those numbers aren’t attributed to Idahoans in this report.

Although Idaho’s carbon footprint is smaller than in most states, the percentage of emissions went up by 4 percent over 10 years. Otto says that’s to be expected.

“Idaho is not doing anything at the state level to limit its carbon emissions." 

In contrast, Otto points to Washington where emissions declined by 8.1 percent in that state. He says Washington’s high energy efficiency standards and regulations around carbon-free power helped to reduce the state’s footprint.

Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio

Frankie Barnhill was the Senior Producer of Idaho Matters, Boise State Public Radio's daily show and podcast.

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