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Deepak Rajagopal for WalletHub—Greenest States (2024)

WalletHub compared America’s 50 states to identify the most environmentally friendly ones, ranking them based on three categories: environmental quality, eco-friendly behaviors and climate-change contributions. California took the top spot, while West Virginia ranked last. UCLA professor Deepak Rajagopal offered insights into environmental policies, emphasizing the complexity of the issue and highlighting the trade-offs between environmental, economic and social goals.

“…There are multiple types of environmental burdens (climate, water use, solid waste, land use, biodiversity, etc.). There are trade-offs between these for any given technology or policy and with social sustainability,” Rajagopal said. He points out that the best approach will vary depending on the specific location and its unique social and economic context, underscoring the need for tailored environmental policies at the local, state and federal levels.