The power of the wind that regularly rolls across the Great Plains States has always been firmly entrenched in the American imagination, from the tornado in Wizard of Oz to the Dust Bowl ballads of Woody Guthrie. Now, that same power inspires our visions of energy independence and a clean energy future.
It’s not surprising, then, that nearly all of these states have embraced National Clean Energy Week as the governors of Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa each issued proclamations officially marking the occasion.
Our friends at the American Wind Energy Association put together an interactive state map that proves the power of wind in the middle of our country. Texas is #1 in installed wind power capacity, followed by #2 Oklahoma, #3 Iowa, #5 Kansas, and #11 North Dakota, while South Dakota checks in at a respectable ranking of 19thin the country. Perhaps most impressively, wind provided 37 percent of Iowa’s total electricity generation in 2017, a larger share than in any other state.
Needless to say, this region is almost single-handedly carrying the industry to the next level. And it’s notable that these states are politically “red,” meaning the popularity of the wind energy movement now spans the political spectrum, as Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions Managing Director Heather Reams recently wrote in an editorial.
As impressive as that wind energy development is, that hardly tells the whole energy story of these states. The archetype of the Texas oilman certainly still rings true—in fact, in 2016, Texas was the leading oil-producing state, producing more than one-third of the nation’s crude oil, followed by North Dakota; Oklahoma and Kansas rank #5 and #10, respectively. Leading the nation in both oil and wind energy is essentially the embodiment of the “all of the above” approach.
Texas also ranks sixth in the nation in natural gas production, just behind North Dakota, which ranks fourth thanks to the development of the Bakken Shale in recent years. South Dakota is #8 and Oklahoma is #11, while Kansas is a significant contributor at #16.
Of course, natural gas is a fossil fuel—but the direct use of natural gas achieves 92 percent efficiency, far better than any other energy source, and it cuts carbon emissions nearly in half. It should definitely be celebrated during National Clean Energy Week as it is the “bridge fuel” that will help America fully transition to clean energy over the next few decades. In fact, natural gas use in the U.S. has increased by more than 40 percent during the past 25 years, likely accounting for energy-related carbon dioxide emissions reaching the lowest levels in the first six months of 2016 than at any time since 1991.
The Great Plains are also notable for ethanol, with South Dakota and Kansas both making the top ten for that resource; but it is Iowa taking the crown as the largest ethanol producer in the country, with 25.6 percent of the nation’s ethanol manufacturing capacity in 2017.
We thank these states for recognizing National Clean Energy Week and for their contributions in oil, natural gas, wind, and biofuels production. We hope residents of these states take a moment to learn a little more about clean energy this week.