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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Special Reports - Revealed: Top Environmental-innovative US States, 2023

Special Reports

Revealed: Top Environmental-innovative US States, 2023


NOAA reported that 2022 saw a succession of eighteen terrible weather calamities, causing more than $165 billion in destruction and taking the lives of a minimum of 474 people. Events such as chaotic hurricanes, fires, tornadoes, dry spells, and a cruel winter storm highlighted the need for prompt action.

A study carried out in the spring by the Pew Research Center found that a large majority of Americans are cognizant of the effects of global climate change on their neighborhoods. Of the people surveyed, 74 percent agreed that the United States should act to handle global climate change, and 67 percent preferred an energy infrastructure that promotes renewable energy sources rather than fossil fuels.

Growth of Clean Energy in the United States: In the United States, renewable energy is advancing rapidly. Between 2010 and 2020, there was a 42 percent increase in clean energy consumption, which accounts for 20 percent of electricity production from utility companies. Also, renewable electricity surpassed coal for the first time in 2022.

The contribution of renewables to national power production rose from 19 percent in 2021 to 21 percent in 2022, largely due to the increased use of wind and solar energy, which accounted for 14 percent of power generation in that year compared to 12 percent the year before. Meanwhile, the share of coal in power production dropped from 23 percent in 2021 to 20 percent in 2022.

Global Shift Towards Renewable Energy: Renewable energy sources are emerging as key players in the global energy sector. Many countries and businesses are striving to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 due to climate change concerns, rising conventional energy costs, and robust incentives provided by developed nations.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts that by 2023, worldwide energy sector investments will have reached $2.8 trillion, with more than $1.7 trillion earmarked for clean technologies. Between 2021 and 2023, green energy investments are predicted to soar by 24 percent, driven by the growth of renewables and electric vehicles, while investments in fossil fuels are expected to rise by 15 percent.

A study conducted by CEOWORLD magazine evaluated U.S. states based on environmental criteria, including water and air quality, and renewable energy utilization. Vermont, New York, California, Hawaii, and Maryland were regarded as the top five ecologically friendly states, while West Virginia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Wyoming were regarded as the least eco-friendly states, with major differences in their strategies toward energy and environmental regulations. Vermont distinguished itself by producing almost 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources this year, while West Virginia stayed heavily reliant on coal, supplying 91 percent of its electricity. The following is a closer look at some of the leading eco-friendly states in the U.S. and their overall grades:

These are the 20 most Environmental-innovative states in the US

  1. California
    > California claims the top spot as the most environmentally friendly state in America. The state’s dedication to sustainability is evident through its bold actions, including a rule issued by the California Air Resources Board that bans the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035. California also leads the nation in electric vehicle adoption, both in terms of total EVs and EVs per capita, as confirmed by our previous analysis of the 20 states with the highest electric vehicle adoption rates.
  2. Washington
    > Washington stands as one of the greenest states in the United States, with remarkable achievements in renewable energy. In the previous year, the state generated more electricity from hydropower than any other, constituting 31% of total utility-scale hydroelectric generation nationwide. Furthermore, Washington is one of the few states in the U.S. with a population boasting over 100,000 electric vehicles (EVs), reflecting its dedication to sustainable transportation.
  3. Oregon
    > Oregon residents have access to financial incentives designed to promote the use of renewable energy sources. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that renewable energy sources, with hydroelectric power leading the way at 51%, contributed to an impressive 70% of all power generated in the state last year.
  4. New Jersey
    > New Jersey is setting ambitious goals for a greener future. The state has committed to achieving 100% clean energy by 2035. Moreover, through its statewide EV program, Partnership to Plug-in, New Jersey actively promotes the deployment of 330,000 zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) on its roads by 2025, aligning with its sustainability objectives.
  5. Maryland
    > Maryland, nestled in the Mid-Atlantic region, secures its position as the fifth most environmentally friendly state, as per a recent WalletHub report. Notably, it boasts the second-highest number of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified buildings per capita in the nation, emphasizing its commitment to sustainable construction.
  6. Colorado
    > Colorado, with 10.3 electric vehicle registrations per thousand residents in 2022, stands as one of the most environmentally friendly states in America, demonstrating a commitment to sustainable transportation.
  7. Massachusetts
    > Massachusetts actively encourages individuals and businesses to adopt sustainable energy practices through climate-friendly policies. In 2021, an impressive 20% of the state’s electricity came from solar sources.
  8. New York
    > New York is a leader in gasoline conservation, utilizing the least amount of gasoline per capita in the country, according to WalletHub’s report on 2023’s Greenest States.
  9. Vermont
    > Vermont, renowned for its commitment to sustainability, recently passed the Affordable Heat Act, aiming to reduce dependence on high-cost, polluting fossil heating fuels.
  10. Nevada
    > Nevada, located in the Western region of the United States, embraced electric vehicles with a total of 32,950 EV registrations in 2022, contributing to its eco-friendly reputation.
  11. Maine
    > Maine is on a path to generate 100% of its electricity from renewables by 2040, demonstrating its strong commitment to sustainable energy. Additionally, the state boasts one of the lowest amounts of landfill waste among all 50 states.
  12. Connecticut
    > Connecticut is making strides in clean energy through the Connecticut Green Bank, established in 2011. It invests in clean energy projects and assists residents and businesses in financing renewable energy initiatives, making them more accessible and affordable.
  13. South Dakota
    > South Dakota stands out as an environmentally conscious state, offering financial incentives to encourage the adoption of renewable energy. In 2021, it produced the second-highest percentage of energy from renewables among all states.
  14. Minnesota
    > Minnesota, situated in the Midwest region, ranks among the top 10 greenest states in America, according to recent research from ConsumerAffairs. In 2022, renewables accounted for 31% of the state’s electricity generation, as reported by the EIA.
  15. New Hampshire
    > New Hampshire has made substantial progress in reducing air emissions, achieving a remarkable 76% reduction in the last decade, as reported by the EIA.
  16. Hawaii
    > Hawaii, located in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean, boasts the finest air quality among all 50 states, as per WalletHub research. Furthermore, it stands out with its low per capita gasoline consumption.
  17. Delaware
    > Delaware, situated in the Mid-Atlantic region, actively encourages the adoption of renewable energy by homeowners and businesses. Grants, incentives, and technical assistance are provided, with solar energy already contributing to around 4.5% of the state’s electricity. Delaware has ambitious plans to triple its solar capacity over the next five years.
  18. Virginia
    > Virginia ranks third in the nation for overall air and water quality, earning recognition in the 2023 U.S. News & World Report’s annual Best States rankings. Its commitment to environmental quality sets it apart.
  19. Idaho
    > Idaho, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), saw renewable energy sources account for a remarkable 75% of its total power generation in the previous year, further establishing its green credentials.
  20. North Carolina
    > North Carolina, located in the Southeastern region, is notably one of the most environmentally friendly states on our list. In 2022, it registered approximately 45,590 electric vehicles (EVs), demonstrating its commitment to sustainable transportation.

A number of select states in the US are displaying admirable standards of environmental stewardship. Maryland has implemented sustainable building practices, New Jersey is aiming to achieve energy efficiency, Oregon has taken up renewable energy sources, Washington is utilizing hydropower, California has adopted a pioneering policy on electric vehicles – all these states are setting a stellar example of environmental responsibility. They demonstrate that a greener future is achievable and necessary in order to confront the current predicaments.

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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Special Reports - Revealed: Top Environmental-innovative US States, 2023
Alexandra Dimitropoulou

Alexandra Dimitropoulou

VP and News Editor
Alexandra Dimitropoulou is a VP and News Editor at CEOWORLD magazine, working to build and strengthen the brand’s popular, consumer-friendly content. In addition to running the company’s website, CEOWORLD magazine, which aims to help CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, and other C-level executives get smarter about how they earn, save and spend their money, she also sits on the Board of Directors of the Global Business Policy Institute. She can be reached on email You can follow her on Twitter at @ceoworld.