Green might not be easy, but is necessary

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 27, 2007

The issue: Alabama is 48th in &8220;green&8221; practices.

Our position: The state needs leadership to make it less toxic.

The news is dismal at best.

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Alabama is one of the country&8217;s most polluting states, according to a Forbes magazine survey taken this fall.

Forbes said a state didn&8217;t have to be generally associated with being environmentally progressive to earn kudos in this report.

Take a look at New Jersey that ranked 7th and New York that ranked 9th. Nobody who has ever been to those states would argue that they&8217;re overrun with an environmental ethos.

Yet, New Jersey has strong policies on the books to promote energy efficiency. And in 2005, the year for which the most recent government data is available, New Jersey ranked

8th in clean water in the nation and 17th in toxic waste.

That&8217;s not bad for a state that takes the butt of jokes for having awful this and that, and for once sending medical waste all the way to the Gulf of Mexico to have it turned back.

The so-called green states of Vermont, Oregon and Washington topped the list, as usual.

But Alabama, that sweet home of rivers and forests and all that we like to brag about outdoors, ranked 48th right behind Indiana and West Virginia, which ranked dead last.

Indiana drew heat from the study because of the high measurement of the amount of carbon dioxide emitted through the combustion of fossil fuels as part of daily living by the people in that state. Forbes claimed that four of Indiana&8217;s metropolitan areas are listed by the American Lung Association as having a bad smog problem. The study ranked water quality in Indiana worse than only four other states.

West Virginia ranked last primarily for its carbon emissions and its toxic water. The Forbes study ranked it fourth worst in the nation.

The study said this about West Virginia: &8220;It&8217;s got more toxic waste to manage per capita than all but three states. In 2005, it disposed of or released 97.1 million pounds of toxic waste.&8221;

Right above these two states falls Alabama.

We drive too much, the study says. Only four states had a higher number of vehicle miles traveled per capita.

The state also manages the fifth largest amount of toxic waste per capita. In 2005, Alabama disposed of or released 122.9 million pounds of waste, according to the study.

But you know what? We don&8217;t seem to care. We have weak environmental laws , seemingly a slap on the hand to industries or individuals that would turn this state brown.

Mississippi and Louisiana rank higher than this state, but still make the bottom five for similar reasons &045; toxic waste, pollution and no real policies with teeth.

It might not be easy being green, but it sure is hard taking the bad news that we&8217;re poisoning ourselves.