Where Are Our Cleanest State Governments?

Back on April 22nd (the International Earth Day) this author, creator of The American State Litter Scorecard research and monthly website, identified “best” state governments with cleanest landscapes and “Greenest” citizenship to world media.

You may ask yourself, “Why should I care about this?” 

A clean environment “matters” – its essentiality for healthy living. Nature gives us many “gifts” for free we may take for granted: clean air and water; beautiful surroundings. But what do some of us give back in return? Intentional or not, our gift back to nature may perhaps be …pollution!

Littering and dumping wastes create danger to public health and safety. These illegal exploits tend to occur at or near traveling routes. The public sector is law-responsible to clean and maintain these areas, encouraged by an ever-growing “green movement” embraced by voters and taxpayers. Yet, annual polls by Gallup find most Americans feel “government’s not working hard enough to protect the environment.”

Folks may have a right to feel miffed. Indeed, states vary widely in measuring, disclosing, even enforcing their litter abatement mandates.

Measuring can be difficult. “Surrogates”—data elements functioning to address operations—are widely popular with public officials and policymakers. The Scorecard is a surrogate that approximates a regime’s broad landscape condition every three years. There’s a spotlight on gauges taken from state-initiated litter studies that distinguish appropriate “green” behaviors (i.e. possession of a Specific Litter Prevention Slogan; Per Person Daily Waste Disposal). Most Scorecard indicators focus on objective (source reduction) deeds; some are subjective (i.e. Licensed Driver Knowledge of Litter and Roadway Laws). Scores are totaled for every government and from these, a designation of the ten “best” is achieved.

Here are the 10 “best,” their acting GOVERNOR, and one or more accomplishments that put each among the ecological frontrunners for the United States.

#1 Washington, JAY INSLEE. The Evergreen State has twice won “best of the ‘best” since 2011, this time, with higher total Scorecard points: 36.0. A pioneer for achievable, high-quality ecological practices, Washington passed Litter Taxation in 1971, one of five states levying a duty on certain goods contributing to superfluous solid waste, to finance litter control and recycling activities.

#2 California [CA] (tie), JERRY BROWN. Total Scorecard points: 30.5. The Golden State had the second lowest Corruption Risk in Public Service Activities by State Governments among peers. In January, CA became the second state to prohibit retail stores from issuing single-use bags; 10 cents is collected for any paper, compostable and reusable bag provided at checkout.

#2 Connecticut (tie), DAN MALLOY. Total Scorecard points: 30.5. The Nutmeg State has the least Per Person Daily Waste Disposal for all 50 authorities—less than a half-pound of unusable items are thrown away as garbage by each citizen every 24 hours.

#4 Florida (tie), RICK SCOTT. Total Scorecard points, 27.0. The Sunshine State is one of two peer governments with a small Percentage of “Profiled Litterers” Age 16-25, and is the only top environmental quality performer of Southern and Sunbelt States east of California. 

#4 Maine (tie), PAUL LEPAGE. Total Scorecard points, 27.0. Similar to Florida, this Pine Tree State has the tiniest Percentage of “Profiled Litterers” Age 16-25. Maine has Comprehensive Recycling Legislation for all 16 Counties and dozens of communities.

#4 Oregon (tie), KATE BROWN. Scorecard points, 27.0. In 1972, the Beaver State was the first to offer Container Deposit Legislation, with ten others since following.

#7 Vermont [VT], PETER SHUMLIN. Scorecard points, 25.5. The Green Mountain State has the lowest Chance for a Debris-related Fatal Vehicle Collision to be endured by a motorist or passenger. No persons were killed in this type of accident in a latest statewide reporting period. Furthermore, VT had the most generous annual Per Person Overall Environmental Protection Expenditure among peers: $105.68 in 2012.

#8 Iowa {IA], TERRY BRANSTAD. Scorecard points, 24.5. The Hawkeye State has the largest proportion of Licensed Drivers with Knowledge of Littering and Roadway Laws among cohorts, based upon a major insurance industry survey. IA’s also distinguished for leading Container Deposit Legislation policies for America’s heartland.

#9 Maryland, LARRY HOGAN. 23.0 points. The Old Line State, observed for effective Environmental Stewardship of Thoroughfares, is an ecological mentor for the Mid-Atlantic and upper South regions.

#10 Missouri, JAY NIXON. 22.5 points. The Show Me State’s among the preponderance of jurisdictions with a Specific Litter Prevention Slogan. These prompts or “cues” (i.e. No MO’re Trash!) evoke state pride, help cut anti-Green conduct and provide environmental awareness.



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I wish to add LaRel Rogers comment (below) from August 6th–this article was re-edited immediately afterwards due to some paragraph info electronically “cut off” in sending this blog.
“Thanks for sharing Steve! I was surprised to see Florida up there – it’s such a huge state and “clean” is not the first thing that comes to mind, more like beach :). I’m also glad Maryland made it 🙂 interesting blog thanks again for sharing”