A new study from a private company found that Provo produces more carbon dioxide per household and has a larger carbon footprint than any other metropolitan area in the United States.

MagnifyMoney, a New York-based site that gives consumers financial advice and discusses economic news and trends, looked at the country’s 200 most populated metropolitan areas and measured the annual average metric tons of CO2 emitted per household.

The analysis found that the average Provo household, a city with an estimated population of 116,702 as of 2018, emits 10.55 metric tons of greenhouse gases every year.

Ogden is not far behind, with the average household emitting 10.16 metric tons of CO2 annually.

The western U.S. is heavily represented on the list of biggest per-household polluters, with Greeley, Colorado; McAllen, Texas; Yakima, Washington; Tyler, Texas; and Oxnard, California all shortly trailing Provo and Ogden.

The most densely populated metropolitan areas in the country tend to have the smallest average carbon footprints. The average households in New York City, New York, and San Francisco, California, emit 5.38 metric tons and 7.12 metric tons of greenhouse gases per year, respectively. Los Angeles, California has the third lowest annual emission rate at 7.15 metric tons.

The number of cars per household and public transportation options likely plays a role in a city’s carbon footprint, the report says.

There are 2.1 cars in the average Provo household, according to the report, that travel approximately 25,000 miles a year. In New York City, there are an average 1.27 cars per household that travel 13,000 miles annually.

And while only 2% of Provo commuters use public transit, 31% of New York City commuters use public buses and trains.

Another factor is urban density. Only 37% percent of New York City households are single-family, detached homes, compared to 67% percent in Provo and 75% in Ogden.

In January 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency reported that Provo had the filthiest air in the nation at that point in time, noting that the city consistently ranks as a top-five worst air quality city.

As of Tuesday, airnow.gov, the site the EPA uses to track air quality, shows that Provo is at a 27 on the Air Quality Index, which is considered a “Good” and healthy score.

Utah officials have made efforts to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, such as encouraging energy companies to develop alternative, cleaner forms of energy. Earlier this month, Gov. Gary Herbert celebrated Utah’s 11th annual Alternative Fuels Awareness Month.

The MagnifyMoney analysis looked at 2017 data from the Center for Neighborhood Technology Housing and Transportation Index. 

Connor Richards covers government, the environment and south Utah County for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at crichards@heraldextra.com and 801-344-2599.

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