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 Northeast, the states of New Jersey and Massachusettshave similar climates, renewable energy resource potential, and population. However, each state’s environmental policies have produced dramatically different results at reducing greenhouse emissions.
- New Jersey has a Renewables Portfolio Standard for electric utilities. In July 2021, electric utilities generated 3 % of the state’s electricity from zero-carbon power plants. The state has recently implemented new clean energy policies to achieve a carbon free power sector before 2035. New Jersey has been a leader in the development of major offshore wind projects.
- Massachusetts also has a Renewable Portfolio Standard for electric utilities. In July 2021, electric utilities generated only 9 % of the state’s electricity from zero-carbon power plants. In 2019, Massachusetts closed its only nuclear power plant and increased the use of natural gas to meet the state’s power demands.
New Jersey has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the use of coal-fueled power plants. In July 2021, only 1.6% of the state’s electricity was generated from coal-fueled power plants. In September 2021, construction began on the New Jersey Wind Port along the eastern shores of the Delaware River. The wind port will support the construction and operation of multiple offshore wind farms along the Eastern Seaboard
Massachusetts greenhouse gas emissions have increase as a result of the closing of the state’s only nuclear power plant. Although state and federal legislators are quick to shout Green New Deal, their actions are not reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
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.
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. He is a board member of the environmental nonprofit, Engineers for a Sustainable Future and blogs on his web site, Our Energy Conundrum at www.jackkerfoot.com
Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”
 US Environmental Protection Agency, April 2021.
 US. Energy Information Agency, New Jersey State Profile and Energy Estimates
 US. Energy Information Agency, Massachusetts State Profile and Energy Estimates
 National Conference of State Legislators – State Renewable Portfolio Standards and Goals, August 13, 2021
 U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions Associated With Electricity Generation