U.S. Could Do Much More To Protect The Environment, Report Finds

In a new report that ranks countries by how well they protect the environment, the U.S. comes in at a disappointing 26th place among 180 nations.

The 2016 Environmental Performance Index, compiled by researchers at Columbia and Yale, measures how well countries protect human and ecological health, ranking them biennially from the world’s greatest environmental champion to the worst.

In its latest report, the usual suspects topped the list: Finland, Iceland and Sweden, which have warmly embraced environmental protection measures in recent decades. Poorer states, such as Afghanistan and Eritrea, show up at the bottom, with war-torn Somalia bringing up the rear. China, the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal, comes in at 109.

As for the U.S., a No. 26 ranking is not bad, but it’s also not great for the world’s largest economy.

Environmental regulations in the country are less stringent than regulations in some European countries, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. And congressional Republicans have repeatedly tried to weaken regulations the Environmental Protection Agency has put into place.

The U.S. has also experienced several major natural disasters in the last two years. One month before the last EPI was released in 2014, thousands of gallons of the toxic chemical MCHM poured into the Elk River near Charleston, West Virginia. A month later, a pipe burst in Eden, North Carolina, pouring toxic coal ash into the nearby Dan River.

In October, a natural gas leak was discovered at a storage facility in Porter Ranch, California. The leak, which has caused many in the area to become ill, has been called the country’s worst natural disaster since BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 — and it still hasn’t been stopped.

This —> Read More