Texas Has the Highest Carbon Dioxide Emissions in the US: Discover 3 Reasons Why

Written by Glorie Martinez
Updated: October 11, 2023
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Texas does things on a more grand scale, and unfortunately, that fact also applies to environmental factors. It currently ranks as the top carbon dioxide emitting state in the United States. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports the state produces over 660 million tons of CO2 emissions per year. That’s more than double the emissions of the second-highest emitting state, California. In fact, if Texas were a country, it would rank as the seventh-largest CO2 emitter in the world – right behind Japan

Where do these high Texas carbon emissions come from? The answer comes in three parts: industry, transportation, and electricity.


Oil refinery plant from industry zone, Aerial view oil and gas petrochemical industrial, Refinery factory oil storage tank and pipeline steel at night, Ecosystem and healthy environment concepts.

One-third of U.S. refineries are located in the Lone Star State, which contributes to Texas’ carbon dioxide emission rate.

©Avigator Fortuner/Shutterstock.com

Texas leads the United States in energy production. It’s the top producer of crude oil and natural gas. Altogether, it accounts for over 40% of the country’s crude oil and about 30% of its marketed natural gas. Texas also houses one-third of the nation’s total refining capacity. The state’s 32 refineries process about 6 million barrels of crude oil per day. In 2021, Texas’s booming energy industry generated over 240 million tons of CO2 emissions.


Cars driving on Seven Mile Bridge, Florida, United States

Personal cars and trucks make up about 80% of Texas’s carbon emissions.

©Altrendo Images/Shutterstock.com

With miles of wide open roads crisscrossing the state, it’s no surprise that Texans love to drive. A recent study from the Texas Department of Transportation estimated that passenger cars and trucks in Texas travel over 260 million miles each year. That calls for about a million barrels of oil per day! Carbon emissions from personal vehicles make up about 80 percent of total emissions across the country, but the industry’s full impact is still greater. When other modes of travel are included – like boats, trains, planes, and off-road vehicles – Texas’ transportation sector produces over 215 million tons of CO2 emissions yearly. 


Silhouette Of Two Engineers Shaking Hands With Electricity Pylon Against Dramatic Sky

Texas leads the nation in coal consumption, another factor in the state’s carbon emmissions.


The electric power sector in Texas is a major contributor to carbon emissions, generating more than 180 million tons of CO2 emissions per year. That’s almost 36 million tons more than California, the next highest emitting state. Roughly half of those emissions came from coal, a statistic that aligns with Texas’s rank as the nation’s largest coal consumer. Environmentally-conscious Texans, take heart: Texas also leads the nation in wind-generated electricity and ranks among the top states for solar energy.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © SD-Pictures / Pixabay – License / Original

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About the Author

Glorie is a multimedia journalist based in Austin, Texas. Growing up, she loved exploring the outdoors in Texas and across the U.S. In her free time, she volunteers at a wildlife rescue and works as a pet sitter. She's a proud pet parent to Juniper, a feisty tabby cat who keeps her on her toes.

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