Efforts to address climate change is gaining momentum in the United States. However, environmental philosophies and policies vary significantly from state to state.
The move from fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) to renewable energy (wind, solar, hydropower, etc.) has contributed to a decline in greenhouse emissions in the United States over the last fifteen years.
Climate, renewable energy resource potential, and population are factors that impact a state’s ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Comparing individual states in the same region proves insight into which states are making real progress at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
In the Midwest, the neighboring states of Illinois and Indiana have similar climates, renewable energy resource potential, and population. However, each state has dramatically different policies on zero-carbon emissions.
- Illinois has a Renewable Portfolio Standard for electric utilities. In July 2021, electric utilities generated 1% of the state’s electricity from zero-carbon power plants. Illinois recently passed clean energy legislation to achieve a 100% carbon free power sector and accelerate the development of new, utility scale renewable energy projects.
- Indiana only has a Clean Energy Portfolio Goal for electric utilities. In July 2021, electric utilities generated only 1% of the state’s electricity from zero-carbon power plants. Indiana has shown little interest in developing state’s significant wind and solar resource potential.
Illinois has been successful at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and has implement to programs to achieve a 100% carbon free power sector in the foreseeable future.
Are Indiana’s legislators climate skeptics? Perhaps, but coal has been a major component of Indiana’s economy, since 1800s. In 2020, Indiana produced 19.9 million tons of coal from 5 underground and 13 surface mines.
Indiana’s state legislators fail to recognize that all coal mines will eventually close, when the operation is no longer economic. However, wind and solar power plants will operate as long as the wind blows and the sun shines.
In 2020, United States electric utilities produced 1.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Achieving a carbon-free power sector in the United States by 2035 will have a significant impact on the global reduction of greenhouse gases. It is time our country united behind programs to address climate change.
Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”
Jack Kerfoot is a scientist, energy expert, and author of FUELING AMERICA, An Insider’s Journey; who has been interviewed on over ninety radio and television stations from New York City to Los Angeles.
 US Environmental Protection Agency, April 2021.
 US. Energy Information Administration, Illinois State Profile and Energy Estimates
 US. Energy Information Administration, Indiana State Profile and Energy Estimates
 Indiana Geological and Water Survey
 U.S. Energy Information Agency, Annual Coal Report 2020, October 2021
 U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions Associated With Electricity Generation