Greenopia recently released a comprehensive ranking of  50 governors in the US and compared their policies, transparency, and interest group ratings to determine which governors were eco-leaders and  which state governments are most dedicated to preserving the environment. Topping the list is Governor Bill Ritter of Colorado, followed closely by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California.  The entire ranking results are available at 50 Greenest Governors. See the top ten below.

The Top Ten Greenest Governors

1. Bill Ritter of Colorado (D). Since becoming elected in 2006 Governor Bill Ritter has become branded as an environmental leader.   The state has become a hub of renewable energy development.  Colorado ranks numbers 6 and 11 in solar and wind energy generation respectively. Colorado is also aggressively pursuing new sites for solar and wind energy in order to further increase its renewable energy usage. Several biofuel plants are based in the state. Governor Ritter hintends that Colorado have the  first LEED certified capitol building.  Colorado is in the process of creating a zero energy district in Fort Collins, and has a comprehensive carbon offset program through Carbon Fund.

Just last week, Governor Ritter  told a U.S. Senate Committee that Colorado’s New Energy Economy can be America’s New Energy Economy, touting clean-energy laws and polices that are creating jobs, attracting companies and advancing a new era of manufacturing in the state.  Governor Ritter is also trying to bring a large number of green jobs to Colorado through his New Energy Economy program.  He plans to use $20 million in stimulus funds to help implement a statewide plan to create and retain jobs, save energy, bolster the use of renewable energy sources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen Colorado’s economy.

2. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California (R)
.  Some of the environmental initiatives that Governor Schwarzenegger has undertaken include the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, Greenhouse Gas reduction standards, Solar Roof Program, and several resource conservation programs. California’s buildings are about 40% more efficient than the US average.   In 2005, Governor Schwarzenegger initiated a program to set stricter-than-federal emissions standards for vehicles.  After a three and one half year wait, The EPA granted him permission last month.    Earlier this year, he created the California Green Corps to work to protect the state’s ecology, and provide valuable experience and training to the young people who go through the program, to help them prepare for employment in the emerging green economy.

3. Ted Kulongowski of Oregon (D).  Since Governor Kulongoski was elected in 2002, he has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Oregon’s environment.  With Portland being known as one of the nations greenest cities, he has worked to ensure that the entire state follows the city’s green path, and has undertaken a number of green initiatives to make his state greener.  Oregon already has one of the lowest greenhouse gas levels per capita.  Yet Governor Kulongoski is doing more by working to try to further reduce Oregon’s greenhouse gas levels by 10% by 2020 and has mandated statewide renewable energy use of 10% by 2015 and 25% by 2025. Governor Kulongoski is also trying to reduce Oregon’s greenhouse gas levels by 10% by 2020.  Oregon has numerous tax incentives to aide concerned citizens in going green.  The legislature also signed a green jobs transportation bill in May that is designed  to create thousands of jobs, improve infrastructure for freight, commerce and goods, and advance Oregon’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the state.

4. Christine Gregoire of Washington state (D) – Elected in 2004, Governor Christine Gregoire Washington is another eco-leader on the rise.  In March 2008, Governor Gregoire signed legislation making Washington just the fourth state in the nation to adopt comprehensive limits on global warming pollution, and the first state to develop a plan to train the state’s work force for the transition to clean energy. The state must reduce emission levels to what they were in 1990, and then reduce them by another 25 percent by 2035. House Bill 2815 requires frequent emission reports from businesses or agencies releasing large amounts of global warming pollution.  Governor Gregoire has set a goal to reduce the amount that drivers in Washington spend on imported fuel by 20 percent by 2020. It also requires the Dept. of Transportation to develop strategies to help people who want an alternative to driving in this time of high gas prices have the freedom to reduce their car travel. In addition, the new legislation encourages the creation of thousands of new “green collar” jobs, and establishes a job growth initiative with the goal of tripling the number of green jobs by 2020. Governor Gregoire has reiterated her goal repeatedly to develop 25,000 new green collar jobs in the next 12 years.  Washington now ranks among the top five states for producing wind power and the top three for manufacturing the equipment to generate solar energy.   Governor Gregiore has also set plans to increase the amount of renewable power that Washington will generate in the future and has signed onto the Western Climate Initiative as well. Governor Gregiore has numerous plans geared towards water including one to clean up Puget Sound. Governor Gregiore is trying to encourage green jobs in her home state and offers several tax incentives for people and businesses with green lifestyles.

5. John Baldacci of Maine (D) – Governor Baldacci, who was elected in 2002, has been extremely proactive in addressing environmental issues in Maine. He launched the nation’s first electronics recycling program as a manufacturer responsibility.  Leading a Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and established a plan to reduce emissions in the state. Maine became the second state to adopt a full Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Becoming the national leader in independent third party certification of the woodlands and mills that process forest products that demonstrates the management of Maine’s working forests meets sustainable standards. Governor Baldacci has also put stricter mercury limit laws on emissions.  Last month he signed legislation that requires manufacturers of bulbs that contain mercury will be required to implement a program for recycling the lamps from households by 2011.  He has also worked to focus on conservation projects involving more than 765,000 acres of Maine’s forestlands, mountains, coastlands, wildlife habitats, and recreational areas and he has substantially eliminated liquidation harvesting (clear-cutting) from Maine’s forests.

6. Martin O’Malley of Maryland (D) – Since Governor Martin O’Malley took office in 2006, he has made a number of strides to address Maryland’ environmental issues.  He recently signed the Greenhouse Reduction Act which calls for a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and it will also create 100,000 new green jobs. Earlier this year, he Enacted Smart, Green, and Growing legislation calling for a sustainable approach to development in Maryland that promotes transit-oriented development, reliable local planning choices, and a clear understanding of the impact of development on our natural environment.  O’Malley also funded Program Open Space for the third consecutive year and preserving more than 21,000 acres of our most vital natural landscape for future generations.

7. Bill Richardson of New Mexico (D) – He has committed a significant amount of resources to preserving areas through land conservation easements and water plans. His River Ecosystem Restoration Initiative is designed to protect and restore river systems across the state. Richardson has a number of policy initiatives that address climate change.  He has a mandate in place requiring that  all state agencies must purchase 100% green power by 2012 and requires that new state government building construction and renovations meet LEED standards and achieve significant energy savings.   He has also been aggressive in addressing climate change.  Richardson has numerous goals in this area.  He is requiring that statewide greenhouse gas emission be reduced to 2000 levels by 2012, 10% below 2000 levels by 2020, and 75% below 2000 levels by 2050.  The state is working to achieve a 20% reduction per capita energy use statewide below 2005 levels by 2020 and a 20% reduction in state government fleet and transportation-related activities from 2005 levels by 2015.  New Mexico also gives numerous tax incentives and significant amounts of funding for clean energy research.

8. James Douglas of Vermont (R)
– Since he took office in 2002,Governor Jim Douglas has worked hard to address Vermont’s environmental issues.   He  has established a number of initiatives aimed at making Vermont greener.  These include the Clean and Clear Water Action Plan, Biofuel initiatives, and programs aimed at making the state government greener. Vermont also has tax incentives in place to help consumers and businesses go green.  Earlier this month, he announced that he was working with other New England Governors on a coordinated regional plan to use stimulus funds for high speed rail that will connect major cities and airports, and support economic growth throughout the region.

9. Jon Corzine of New Jersey (D)
.  Since taking office in 2006, Jon Corzine has been pretty aggressive when it comes to the environment.  He has spearheaded is his Energy Master Plan which calls on New Jersey to be more energy efficient as well as use more renewable energy, which call for a  30% renewable energy target.  Through programs such as his Clean Car initiative and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Corzine has implemented several steps for reducing New Jersey’s greenhouse gas emissions New Jersey has set aggressive targets for both solar energy and offshore wind development, and is home to more solar energy installations than any other state in the country, except California.  New Jersey also is on its way to setting up the first offshore windmills off the Atlantic Coast.  In February, Corzine signed an executive order to address environmental issues in low-income and minority communities, which includes the creation of an advisory council to oversee state policies and initiatives.

10. Jodi Rell of Connecticut (R). Since Governor Rell took office back in 2000,  she has put various environmental policies into place to help preserve the environment, including signing an agreement to place mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions. This policy requires greenhouse gas levels to be reduced by 10% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. She has also signed clean fuel bills for transportation, water purification, and one limited the use of pesticides near day care centers. Governor Rell also supports renewable energy and habitat preservation.  A few weeks ago, governor Rell launched “Connecticut Green Lodging” a self-certification Program open to hotels, motels and other lodging owners.  That same week, she announced the signing of a bill that will help developers proceed more quickly with the clean-up of contaminated brownfields – idled industrial sites – and make it easier for them to recover clean-up costs from those responsible for polluting the property.

The entire ranking results are available at 50 Greenest Governors.

Governors Ranking 11 Through 20

11. Deval Patrick (D)  Massachusets
12. Jan Brewer (R)  Arizona
13. Beverly Perdue (D) North Carolina
14. Jennifer Granholm (D) Michigan
15. John Lynch (D) New Hampshire
16. James Doyle (D) Wisconsin
17. David Paterson (D) New York
18. Mike Beebe (D) Arkansas
19. Timothy Pawlenty (R) Minnesota
20. Edward Rendell (D) Pennsylvania

The entire ranking results are available at 50 Greenest Governors.

© 2009, Tracey de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Tracey de Morsella (323 Articles)

Tracey de Morsella started her career working as an editor for US Technology Magazine. She used that experience to launch Delaware Valley Network, a publication for professionals in the Greater Philadelphia area. Years later, she used the contacts and resources she acquired to work in executive search specializing in technical and diversity recruitment. She has conducted recruitment training seminars for Wachovia Bank, the Department of Interior and the US Postal Service. During this time, she also created a diversity portal called The Multicultural Advantage and published the Diversity Recruitment Advertising Toolkit, a directory of recruiting resources for human resources professionals. Her career and recruitment articles have appeared in numerous publications and web portals including Woman Engineer Magazine,, Job Search Channel, Workplace Diversity Magazine, Society for Human Resource Management web site, NSBE Engineering Magazine,, and Human Resource Consultants Association Newsletter. Her work with technology professionals drew her to pursuing training and work in web development, which led to a stint at Merrill Lynch as an Intranet Manager. In March, she decided to combine her technical and career management expertise with her passion for the environment, and with her husband, launched The Green Economy Post, a blog providing green career information and covering the impact of the environment, sustainable building, cleantech and renewable energy on the US economy. Her sustainability articles have appeared on Industrial Maintenance & Plant Operation, Chem.Info,FastCompany and CleanTechies.

  • BPVT

    Governor Douglas is a long way from green !
    I saw the Greenopia’s rating a while back here in Vermont and was surprised to see our Governor Jim Douglas 8th on this list .
    See the Greenopia comment section for comments from Vermonters expressing surprise and outrage .
    My recommendation as a result of his inclusion in the top ten is to take this entire list with a grain of salt.

  • Lesley LEED AP

    And everybody laughed when Schwarzenegger ran and became governor…apparently, he’s doing a pretty good job. He even beat out the governors of Oregon and Washington! I expected them to have been in the #1 and #2 positions. I expected Bev Perdue of North Carolina to have been a little higher as well. Very interesting stuff, thanks!

  • Scott

    It’s interesting that most of the top 10 greenest governors are from the west coast and new england area. I guess these politicians know what to do to get re-elected – if you are a governor in a state where a lot of citizens are environmentally conscious, it would make sense to take a positive stance on reducing emissions and promoting renewable energy sources.