[1THING] Blog

[ America’s best kept secrets: 15 best wild beaches ]

Public beaches can sometimes be crowded, noisy places. But beaches in wilderness areas can be incredibly peaceful.

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[ U.S. State Energy Costs: Who Pays Most, Least ]

The price of electricity isn’t bad in Georgia—26 percent lower than the national average, by one measure. But as a new study shows, when it comes to the energy-cost line in U.S. consumer budgets, there’s a lot more to it than how many cents per kilowatt hour the local utility charges.

WalletHub, a personal and small-business finance website, tallied the prices of electricity, natural gas and gasoline—and, significantly, took into account how much of the stuff people tend to use—to get a handle on the financial toll that energy exacts in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The study reveals that the range is great, from an average of $301 a month in Colorado at the low end, to $347 in New Hampshire in the middle, to $451 in Hawaii at the high end.

WalletHub said it used data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report to compile the rankings.

Colorado wins the derby by using moderate amounts of all three energy types, by having moderate electricity and gasoline prices, and by having the lowest natural gas prices in the country.

Hawaii’s downfall is simple to explain: prices. The state has the highest prices in each category (being an island thousands of miles from its energy sources can do that). So despite using less electricity than any state except Maine, using less natural gas than anyone, and using less gasoline than all but four states and D.C., monthly energy costs are sky high.

But that’s an extreme situation—Georgia might provide a better case study of the roles that nature, behavior and policy can play in determining energy costs.

At an average energy cost of $403 per month, Georgia finds itself closer to Hawaii than Colorado in the rankings because it uses a lot of energy. Even with its modest electricity rates, the average monthly electricity bill in Georgia is $123 (40th on a list where being first is best), according to WalletHub’s calculations, because the state ranks 41st in average monthly consumption.

Georgia does even worse when it comes to gasoline. Spending averages $217 a month there, topping even California ($192), well known for its driving culture and high gasoline prices. Georgians can’t blame it on the price of gas; only 16 states have lower gas prices than Georgia, but because the state ranks 44th in average monthly gas consumption per driver, total expenditures are among the highest in the nation.

As WalletHub notes, some factors that go into these results can’t be avoided – several months of hot, humid weather in Georgia every year no doubt keep air conditioners humming. But efficiency efforts in states could also have something to do with the results.

Georgia ranked 33rd in the State Energy Efficiency Scorecard released last November by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. The state did particularly poorly in “implementing utility-sector efficiency programs and enabling policies that are evidence of states’ commitment to energy efficiency,” with a score of 1.5 out 20, worse than all but seven states.

Georgia did better on transportation, coming in 17th place, but, notably, unlike the top six states in the rankings, it had no “vehicle miles traveled” reduction target, which the ACEEE labeled an important tool in inspiring “coordination of transportation and land use planning.” Georgia also had no greenhouse-gas emissions standards; in California, by contrast, “requirements for reductions in GHG emissions have led it to identify several strategies for smart growth,” the ACEEE said.

Note: WalletHub said it used data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report to compile its ranking. The energy cost per month for each state was the product of this equation, according to the site: (Average Monthly Consumption of Electricity x Average Retail Price of Electricity) + (Average Monthly Consumption of Natural Gas x Average Natural Gas Residential Prices) + [Average Fuel Price * (Average Monthly Vehicle Miles Traveled / Average Car Consumption / Number of Drivers)].

[ Bad news for conservation: budget bill advances in House ]

The fiscal year 2015 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill contains more than 30 anti-conservation policy provisions, undercutting current funding levels despite modest incre

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[ Conservation pays: $360 billion, 2 million jobs from Dept. of Interior land in 2013 ]

The contribution of public lands managed by the Interior Department’s various branches, including national parks, wildlife refuges, monuments and wilderness areas, is s

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[ Interior report on drilling permits reveals notable gaps for wildlands ]

On the face of it, a new report from the Department of Interior’s (DOI) Inspector General looks at delays in issuing drilling permits for oil and gas wells, but it ends up supporting the need for more drillin

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[ National park tour engages young Latinos with conservation ]

Several of America’s famed national parks will be the destinations for a group of college students who will be touring the west over next week, learning about the many threats posed by oil and gas development.

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[ Praise for Passage of “Win-Win” Congressional Bill that Balances Conservation and Energy Development in Utah ]

Michael Reinemer

The Wilderness Society praises Congress for passing the Hill Creek Cultural Preservation and Energy Development Act (H.R. 356 / S. 27).

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[ Tell Congress to fix broken funding system for managing wildfires ]

As the costs of fighting wildfires continue to balloon, underfunded U.S. Forest Service programs have been forced to pull money from important conservation programs to keep on top of both wildfire suppression and mitigation.

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[ Government Relations Internship ]

Government Relations Internship

[ 9 surprising reasons for kids to get outside this summer ]

For many kids, summer means time out of the classroom and into the sunshine. But between camps, vacations and video games, they may not be getting all the fresh air they could use.

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