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

Efforts to address climate change are gaining momentum across the United States. However, environmental philosophies and policies vary dramatically 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 all 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 Northwest, Idaho and Montana are areally large, sparsely populated states with similar climates and renewable energy resource potential. However, each state is taking different paths in the development of their vast renewable energy resources.

Idaho is one of only 13 states with neither a renewable energy standard nor a renewable goal[2] However, in October 20021, electric utilities generated 72.0 % of the state’s electricity from renewable energy[3].

Idaho has vast renewable energy resources including hydropower, wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass. The development of these renewable energy resources contributes to state’s very low cost of electricity.

Idaho’s state capital, Boise has set the goal[4] of generating 100% of the city’s electricity from renewable energy by 2035. The city has also set the goal of being 100% carbon neutral by 2050.

In 2005, Montana  established a Renewable Resource Standard[5] for electric utilities to generate 15% of the state’s electricity from renewable energy by 2015. In October 2021, electric utilities generated 43.4% of the state’s electricity from renewable energy[6].

However, in October 2021, 53.6 % of Montana’s electricity was generated by coal-fueled power plants. The cost to generate electricity from coal-fueled power plants is over twice the cost of electricity ($/kWh) from wind or solar projects.

Montana’s utilities have been slow to move from coal fueled power plants to renewable energy. The state utilities inaction is costing consumers money and fueling climate change.

In 2020, United States electric utilities produced 1.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions[7]. 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, author of FUELING AMERICA, An Insider’s Journey and has authored articles for The Hill, one the largest independent political news sites in the United States. Jack has been interviewed on over ninety radio and television stations from New York City to Los Angeles.

Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”


[1] US Environmental Protection Agency, April 2021.

[2] National Conference of State Legislators – State Renewable Portfolio Standards and Goals, August 13, 2021

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

[4] City of Boise Climate Action –

[5] National Conference of State Legislators – State Renewable Portfolio Standards and Goals, August 13, 2021

[6] US. Energy Information Administration, Montana State Profile and Energy Estimates

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

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