Which States Are Breaking Free From Oil Dependence? NRDC Ranks All 50

State policies can help households save money by reducing oil dependence, according to a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council. Photo: ##http://www.nrdc.org/energy/states/##NRDC.org##

When it comes to helping their residents get around without breaking the bank, California, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, and New York are the top five states in the nation, while Nebraska, Alaska, Mississippi, Idaho, and North Dakota bring up the rear.

That’s according to a new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council. NRDC ranked every state on their policies to reduce oil dependence, as well as their actual performance, based on per-capita spending on gasoline as a percentage of income.

Among the measures that NRDC rewarded for giving residents more freedom from fuel price volatility: 13 states are actively promoting smart growth policies, and five states have set targets to reduce overall vehicle miles traveled (VMT). NRDC also gave credit to states that had developed fuel efficiency standards or were taking action to encourage the use of alternative fuels.

The four top-ranked states have all set targets to reduce VMT or petroleum consumption, and three of the top five states are also among the top five in transit investment.

The lowest-ranking states, meanwhile, were all without any substantive policies to reduce fuel consumption or promote travel options besides driving. NRDC found a substantial overlap among states that had the worst fuel policies and the states where residents end up taking the biggest hits at the pump. Residents of Mississippi, West Virginia, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Oklahoma spend the highest percentage of their income on gas.

The point of the report, said NRDC Executive Director Peter Lenher, is not to shame the most oil-dependent states, but to provide inspiration and examples from the places that are leading the way toward a more resilient future.

“What’s really important here: we really can do something about how much people pay for their transportation,” said Lenher. “This should be viewed as a very hopeful study to show that policies make a difference in the lives of people.”

You check out all the rankings in the full NRDC report.

  • This doesn’t surprise me. When I was in Omaha, I missed the 6pm bus to the airport and then found out that it was the last of 6 that day.

  • Davistrain

    Of course New York looks good–with all those New York City subway riders who don’t even own a car.  If the NYC metro area were split off from “upstate” NY, it might look quite a bit different. 

  • Nathanael

    Yeah, I was going to say what Davistrain said — the situation in upstate NY is poor.  It’s probably nowhere near as baad as Mississippi or West Virginia,  but I’d expect it to look as bad as Vermont.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

How Gas-Dependent Is Your State?

|
It’s no secret that higher gas prices are hitting American pocketbooks hard. To a remarkable extent, however, exactly how much pain Americans are experiencing is a function of where they live. A report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council details how geography impacts our vulnerability to gas price fluctuation. Fuel pump pressure is […]

Addicted To Oil: Ranking States’ Vulnerability

|
A new NRDC report ranks U.S. states on their level of oil vulnerability measured by how heavily each state’s citizens are affected by increases in oil prices. States are also ranked on their implementation of solutions to reduce oil dependence. The report found that while oil dependence affects all states, some are hit harder economically […]

New Report Links Homeowners’ Auto Dependence With Foreclosure Risk

|
Homeowners in car-dependent areas without access to alternative transportation are at greater risk of foreclosure, according to a report released yesterday by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) that calls for mortgage underwriting standards to begin taking so-called "location-efficiency" into account. Weeds spring up near a foreclosed home in Illinois. (Photo: Getty) The NRDC examined […]

A Progress Report on State-Level Oil Dependence

|
NRDC’s depiction of how hard states are hit by gas costs, ranked by percentage of income spent. America’s oil addiction is readily acknowledged, even by its biggest enablers. But what is the nation actually doing to kick the habit and embrace a safer, healthier, more realistic energy future?  An attempt to answer that question was […]

Feds to Start Scoring Transportation Potential of Housing Grant Applicants

|
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan said late Friday that his agency will soon start gauging the "location efficiency" of its grant applicants, determining each project’s potential for connecting residents to surrounding neighborhoods — and mirroring the recommendations of a recent report that found a correlation between homeowners’ foreclosure risk and their dependence […]