Oil Addiction: Gas Price Spikes Threaten Americans' Wallets

New Analysis Shows States Most Dependent Upon Oil for Transportation Would Be Hardest Hit by Price Shocks

WASHINGTON (March 17, 2010) –  As many energy experts are predicting that gas prices will rise nationally to more than $3 per gallon this spring, a new study shows the heavy toll these spikes would have on Americans’ wallets. The economic white paper, “Ranking States Oil Vulnerability: Assessing the Continued Threat of Gas Price Spikes,” examines the impact of a gas price spike similar to the summer of 2008 in states across the country.

The data reveals that drivers in all states are dependent on oil for their transportation needs, but some states are more vulnerable to oil price increases than others. Drivers in the most vulnerable states will be particularly hard hit in the event of another spike in the price of gasoline, which is one of the economic risks Americans face due to the country’s dependence on oil.

“Our ongoing oil addiction is draining our wallets and our economy, and rising gas prices will only add to this burden,” said Deron Lovaas, transportation expert at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “That’s why we need to move forward with clean energy and climate solutions that will not only strengthen our national security and our environment, but will also help revitalize our economy.”

Even without an oil price shock, there is a major gulf between the nation’s 10 most vulnerable states and the 10 least vulnerable. The 10 most vulnerable states are (from most to least): Mississippi, Montana, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Kentucky, Texas, Maine, Georgia and Idaho. The 10 least vulnerable states are (from most to least): Florida, Washington, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Colorado, New Hampshire, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut (least vulnerable). (See the full report with a complete list of states’ data: http://docs.nrdc.org/energy/files/ene_10031601a.pdf.)

“The impacts of gasoline prices in the midst of a struggling economy make it clear that our country needs to reduce its dependence on oil,” said Elizabeth Hogan, analyst at David Gardiner and Associates and the author of the report. “By promoting more efficient vehicles, clean fuels, smart growth, and public transportation, our government can put an end to our unhealthy addiction that pinches our wallets and threatens our national security and the environment.”

In order to cut America’s dependence on oil and help reduce the risk of oil and gas price spikes, the report recommends the following policies for the U.S. Congress:

  • Pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation that limits carbon dioxide emissions, helps us break our oil addiction, and helps create millions of clean energy jobs here in the United States; and
  • Fundamentally reform federal transportation policy to support smart, transit-oriented development; assist states and regions in saving oil; and provide ample funding for energy-efficient transportation alternatives including rail and bus lines, bike paths, sidewalks, and other alternatives to driving.

For the full report, go to: http://docs.nrdc.org/energy/files/ene_10031601a.pdf.