Fighting Oil Addiction: November 2012

Issue Paper
November 30, 2012

Ranking States' Gasoline Price Vulnerability and Solutions for Change

Energy policy and prices remain front and center in the American consciousness, particularly as national election consequences play out and the fragile economy continues to make many Americans feel more vulnerable. Americans continued to feel the painful pinch of gasoline prices in 2011 -- and they still do today. To curb America's perilous oil addiction, we continue to 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.

This is the 6th edition of this report by David Gardiner & Associates (DGA) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), identifying the states whose citizens feel the greatest economic pain from gasoline prices -- and the 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 -- the percentage of personal income spent on gasoline by the average driver in each state. Second, it ranks states based on their adoption of smart solutions to reduce their oil dependence -- measures they are taking to strategically 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 every state in 2011 spent a higher percentage of their income on gasoline than they did in 2010, 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 in most states (42) were hit even harder in 2011 than they were during the previous heights of vulnerability in 2008.
  • 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.

Solutions to reducing consumer gasoline bills do exist, but not without help from both state and federal governments. Each state needs to adopt measures that promote efficient vehicles, smart growth, and transit, while the federal government must provide effective policies that reduce oil dependence in the United States through delivering more clean vehicle, fuel, and transportation options to consumers who deserve no less.