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Hydropower keeps Idaho emissions low

Per capita rate of carbon dioxide is second lowest

Idaho residents have relatively small carbon footprints because most of their electricity comes from hydropower, a new study says.

Idaho’s rivers generate 80 percent of the electricity used in the state. As a result, the Gem State has the second lowest per capita rate of carbon dioxide emissions in the nation, according to a U.S. Department of Energy analysis.

Idaho released 9.8 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per person in 2009. The state of New York had the lowest per capita rate – 9 metric tons per person – which the study attributed to mass transit and energy-efficient buildings in New York City’s metro area.

Carbon dioxide is one of the main gases associated with global climate change. Washington’s per capita rate of carbon dioxide emissions was 11.6 metric tons in 2009.

The study examined carbon emissions by state between 2000 and 2009. The United States’ overall carbon emissions fell by 7.4 percent during that time. While most states reported reductions in carbon emissions, some states had increases.

Wyoming had the highest per capita rate of carbon dioxide emissions in 2009 – 117 metric tons per person. Cold winters, low population density and fossil-energy development raised Wyoming’s per capita output compared to other states, the study said. Oil and gas production is energy intensive, the study’s authors noted.

The study was done by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a branch of the Department of Energy.