Biden’s Climate Plan to Benefit Southern States Most Profoundly

Graphic: LawnStarter

by Natasha Lasky, ODP Contributing Writer

President-elect Joe Biden has promised that in his first 100 days as president, he will work diligently to tackle what he calls “the No. 1 issue facing humanity”: climate change. His climate plan aims to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and to produce carbon-free electricity production by 2035, while creating millions of new jobs constructing eco-friendly infrastructure.

What This Means:  Researchers from LawnStarter analyzed 30 key factors connected to his plan, from the frequency of natural disasters to oil production to the share of electricity from renewable resources in order to see the states that would be most affected by his climate plan. The top ten states that would be affected by Biden’s climate policy were in the South and Appalachia, with Texas coming in first, followed by Louisiana, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Missouri, Tennessee, and Mississippi. (Take a look at all winners and losers here.)

Why will Biden’s climate plan affect certain states more?

LawnStarter found that the states that will be highly affected by more sweeping climate policy tend to have these things in common:

  • Many billion-dollar natural disasters
  • A low share of electricity from renewable sources
  • High oil production
  • High levels of toxic chemicals being released
  • Low power grid reliability
  • Low share of population using eco-friendly commuting methods
  • Many air quality violations

Six of the top ten ranked states were in the South, because many southern states have less stringent environmental regulation, unreliable infrastructure, and large numbers of hurricanes and floods, which can be devastating. The state that would see the most change as a result of Biden’s climate plan, Texas, had over 63 billion-dollar natural disasters over the last decade. Meanwhile, Appalachian states like Tennessee and West Virginia have booming coal industries, which keep emissions and rates of air pollution higher than in states with more aggressive clean energy goals.

Why This Matters: As LawnStarter’s research suggests that states that have been most resistant to climate change policy would receive the most positive benefits, even compared with states on the West Coast, which still experience many devastating natural disasters. 

All Americans deserve to breathe clean air, pay lower prices for utility bills, and have an equal shot at obtaining the green jobs of the future. President-elect Biden’s climate ambitions can help bring laggard states along at a time when all states must work to double down on their climate commitments. Because as Cynthia Giles, former head of the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, explained, we can’t just leave environmental policy up to states and expect equity. 


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