The Clock Is Ticking On Climate Change, Which State In The Great Plains Is Making Real Progress?

Efforts to address climate change are 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[1] 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 Great Plains, the states of South Dakota and Nebraska have similar climates, renewable energy resource potential, and population. However, each state has polar opposite views on the importance of renewable energy.

  • South Dakota has a Renewable, Recycled and Conserved Energy Objective[2] for electric utilities. In August 2021, electric utilities generated 75.5% of the state’s electricity from renewable energy[3]. South Dakota is on track to achieve a carbon free power sector by 2035
  • Nebraska is one of only 13 states with neither a renewable energy standard nor an objective[4]. In August 2021, electric utilities generated only 21.3% of the state’s electricity from renewable energy[5]. State utilities shown limited interest in developing Nebraska’s vast wind potential.

In August 2021, 56.1% of Nebraska’s electricity generation was fueled by coal. Nebraska imports all its coal by rail from Wyoming. The cost to generate electricity from coal-fired plants is over twice the cost of utility scale wind or solar projects.

Why have Nebraska’s utilities shown limited interest in developing the state’s vast wind potential? Nebraska’s state legislators may be climate skeptics, but their actions are costing consumers money and sustaining global warming, which creates climate change.

In 2020, United States electric utilities produced 1.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions[6]. 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.

[1] US Environmental Protection Agency, April 2021.

[2] National Conference of State Legislators – State Renewable Portfolio Standards and Goals, January 4, 2021

[3] US. Energy Information Administration, South Dakota State Profile and Energy Estimates

[4] National Conference of State Legislators – State Renewable Portfolio Standards and Goals, January 4, 2021

[5] US. Energy Information Administration, Nebraska State Profile and Energy Estimates

[6] U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions Associated With Electricity Generation

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