WASHINGTON (May 26, 2011) -- Rising gas prices are hitting drivers all across the country, but states with smart transportation policies can help their drivers feel less pain at the pump, according to a new report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
In the 2011 edition of "Fighting Oil Addiction: Ranking States' Gasoline Price Vulnerability and Solutions for Change," NRDC and David Gardiner & Associates analyze state policies that help drivers, including tele-commuting options, transit spending, efforts to reduce sprawl, and other options.
"There is no immediate solution to high gas prices, but smart transportation polices can reduce gas bills for all drivers, no matter where they live," said Deron Lovaas, NRDC's federal transportation policy director. "Better state policies that give residents transportation options, such as transit assistance and telecommuting options, can provide relief. Federal action -- such as increasing vehicle fuel efficiency standards to 60 miles per gallon -- would reduce oil price vulnerability across the board. We know we can't drill our way toward lower gas prices, so policies like these deliver."
According to the report, the 10 states that are doing the most to promote clean energy technologies and reduce their dependence on oil are: #1 California, #2 Oregon, #3Massachusetts, #4 New York , #5 New Jersey, #6 Maryland, #7 Connecticut, #8 Rhode Island , #9Washington, #10 Vermont.
The 10 states doing the least to reduce their oil dependence are: #50 Nebraska, # 49 North Dakota, #48 Alaska, #47 Iowa, #46 Arkansas, #45 South Dakota, #44 Indiana, #43 Missouri, #42 Wyoming, #41 Ohio.
Meanwhile, the report also ranks how increases in gasoline prices affect drivers' out-of-pocket spending by analyzing 2010 gas price data, incomes and gas usage in each state.
In 2010, average drivers in the state least vulnerable to gas price shocks -- which for the fifth year in a row is Connecticut -- spent less than 3 percent of their income on gasoline. Average drivers in the most vulnerable state -- which for the fifth year in a row is Mississippi -- spent more than twice as much of their income - more than 7 percent - on gasoline.
The 10 states most vulnerable to oil price increases are: #1 Mississippi, #2 South Carolina, #3 Kentucky, #4 Georgia, #5 Idaho, #6 Oklahoma, #7 North Dakota, #8 Arkansas, #9 Iowa, and #10 New Mexico.
Regardless of how urban or rural the state, transportation is something everyone needs," said Elizabeth Hogan, an analyst at David Gardiner and Associates and co-author of the report. "Many of the states where drivers are paying the most at the pump are the states offering drivers the least policy relief. Looking at all of the options available to state policymakers, it's clear which states are taking advantage of all the opportunities available to them."
The report recommends that states establish policies that reduce sprawl, reduce the number of miles that citizens need to travel in vehicles to get to work or school or other daily tasks, and promote accessible public transit systems.
On the federal level, the report also recommends stronger investment in public transportation and in the maintenance and repair of decaying infrastructure, as well as establishment of a national oil-savings objective.
The full report is available at www.nrdc.org/energy/states