Fighting Oil Addiction: May 2011

Issue Paper
May 26, 2011

Ranking States' Gasoline Price Vulnerability and Solutions for Change

Unrest in the Middle East has raised concerns about how dependent the United States is on foreign oil. The price of gasoline has been skyrocketing. And the recession has continued to make many Americans feel more economically vulnerable. Americans continued to feel the painful pinch of gasoline prices in 2010 – and they still do today.

This report updates the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 research identifying the states whose citizens feel the greatest economic pain from gasoline prices — and those states that are doing the most to break their addiction to oil. Like the previous editions, this report again ranks U.S. states in two critical areas related to our nation’s continuing addiction to oil.

First, it calculates gasoline price vulnerability – how heavily each state’s drivers are affected by increases in gasoline prices. Second, it ranks states based on their adoption of solutions to reduce their oil dependence – measures they are taking to lessen their vulnerability and to bolster America’s security.

The data yield some clear conclusions:

  • Oil dependence affects all states, but some states' drivers are hit harder economically than others. Drivers in almost every state in 2010 spent a higher percentage of their income on gasoline than they did in 2009, and drivers in the most vulnerable states spent more than twice as large a percentage of their income on gasoline as drivers in the least vulnerable states.
  • Drivers are being hit even harder right now than they were in 2010.
  • While some states are pioneering solutions and many are taking some action, many states are still taking few (if any) of the steps listed in this report to reduce their oil dependence.

To curb America’s perilous oil addiction, we need effective government policies that will increase the availability and use of efficient vehicles and clean fuels, as well as promote smart growth and public transit.