Fighting Oil Addiction: November 2010

Issue Paper
November 30, 2010

Ranking States' Gasoline Price Vulnerability and Solutions for Change

The events of 2010 have made clear the perils of our dependence on oil. The continued recession has stretched the resources of many Americans and underscored the need for affordable transportation. The massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has poignantly reminded us of both the environmental and economic costs associated with our nation’s addiction to oil.

America's addiction to oil continues to threaten not only our national security and global environmental health, but also our economic viability. NRDC analyzed how heavily drivers in each state are affected by oil prices and ranked states on their adoption of solutions to reduce their oil dependence -- measures they are taking to lessen their vulnerability and to bolster America's security. NRDC found that gas prices, combined with the economic downturn, are making people more vulnerable to changes in oil prices. But many states are taking significant steps to reduce oil dependence through smart clean-transportation policies.

Our analysis shows that:

  • Oil dependence affects all states, but some drivers are hit harder economically than others.
  • Drivers in 2009 spent a markedly lower percentage of their income on gasoline than they did in 2008, and drivers in all but 5 states actually spent a lower percentage than they did in 2006. This is a notable change in the trend of the past few years, which saw increasing vulnerability.
  • While some states are pioneering solutions and many are taking some action, a fair number of states are still taking few (if any) of the steps needed to reduce their oil dependence.

By promoting clean vehicle and fuel technologies as well as transportation alternatives, states can reduce oil dependence. These measures can, in turn, create clean energy jobs, reduce vulnerability to fuel price hikes, and lessen air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.