We're No. 18

It's nice to see Nevada not ranked worst in something.

Last month, President Obama announced a proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule to reduce carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030.

This wasn't the daring move the White House would suggest, nor is it the arrow to the heart industry cries would imply. For one thing, it is pegged to levels in 2005, which were all-time highs, and which also means that half that 30 percent has already been achieved. Cute, huh?

In addition, the president delayed an awful long time in acting, until he was facing lawsuits—not by environmental activists but by state governments—to force him to comply with the Clean Air Act.

Anyway, we took the occasion to check on where Nevada ranks in carbon emissions. Given the importance of air conditioning in the hottest sections of the state, we weren't optimistic, but in fact, Nevada ranked 12th from the bottom among the 50 states and Washington, D.C., in the carbon emissions it produced in 2010.

That, however, is just a reflection of raw numbers, which are meaningless. Nevada would expect to produce few emissions compared to other states simply because it has a small population. But when the numbers are per capita, the state's ranking is less impressive. It produces 14.3 metric tons carbon dioxide per person. That's 18th in the nation.

Among small Western states, that compares to Arizona's 14.4, Utah's 22.7, Montana's 26.5, and Wyoming at 118.5. (What the heck is going on there?) Wyoming is highest among the states, D.C. the lowest at 5.4. New York is the lowest state at 8.8.

Nevada is significantly lower than it used to be. It dropped from 22.4 in 2000, which is a decline over a decade of 36.17 percent. So it may be 18th, but it's headed in the right direction. For a change.