Biases: WalletHub ranking ignores reality

A report released by a personal finance website calls West Virginia the least eco-friendly state in the country. In fact, WalletHub says the bottom five also include Alabama, North Dakota, Kentucky and Louisiana. Notice anything?

Being “green” costs a lot of green, if you do it in the most politically correct and trendy way possible.

States where citizens are struggling to get by — and where allegedly eco-friendly initiatives are not being subsidized by the federal government — get low marks. States where those citizens are struggling because they’ve been targets of federal agencies that cared far more about keeping up appearances and protecting the bureaucracy than protecting the environment get the lowest.

Categories in which states were ranked include LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certified Buildings per capita. The Mountain State ranked 48th. It is probably true. Anyone with the resources and initiative to build a new home or business in West Virginia has enough hoops to jump through.

But what about percentage of renewable energy consumption? West Virginia ranks 32nd. Of course it does. Despite attempts to make them unaffordable, the coal and natural gas under our feet is still the cheapest way for us (and most of the rest of the country) to power our lives.

And then there is gasoline consumption (in gallons) per capita. The Mountain State ranks 26th. Not bad, really.

Still categories like these ignore plain facts. For example, does anyone stop to consider the fuel that was used in the power plant that sent the electricity used to charge the batteries of their shiny new electric car? Or the problem of disposing of those batteries, which are made up of fun substances like lithium and give off toxic gases when damaged? Or that the plastics and other petrochemical products used in the production of these vehicles still mean we have got to find a way to get fossil fuels out of the ground?

Questions for surveys like these, and the categories under which states are ranked, are created with an enormous degree of confirmation bias. One wonders why companies such as WalletHub continue to churn out reports in which it is clear the authors knew from the beginning they hoped to paint places such as West Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, Louisiana or Mississippi in a bad light.

Why not write a report based on a study of the states that have made the greatest strides in improving the health of their environment?

Nah. Wouldn’t want to see California in “dead last,” to quote our governor, now, would we?


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