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Which States Are Most Vulnerable to Rising Gas Prices?

As prices continue to rise, some states will have a harder time adjusting than others.

The Natural Resources Defense Council just released its annual "Fighting Oil Addiction" report (PDF), which evaluates all 50 states with regard to their vulnerability to changes in gas prices and the solutions they've proposed.

The vulnerability is determined by what percent of an average resident's income is spent on gasoline. As you can see in the map below, the states most vulnerable are those that have relatively low incomes and less dense populations. Mississippi, South Carolina, and Kentucky have the sorry distinction of being the most vulnerable.

The rest of the report (PDF) looks at what various states are doing to combat oil dependency. The ten states doing the most to wean themselves off of oil are:

1) California
2) Oregon
3) Massachusetts
4) New York
5) New Jersey
6) Maryland
7) Connecticut
8) Rhode Island
9) Washington
10) Vermont

For the most part, state strategies involve a variety of tactics like advancing the adoption of more fuel efficient vehicles, promoting alternative fuels, and investing in smarter intermodal mass transit alternatives.

Ignoring the popular fantasy that we can drill our way to lower gas prices, the plain truth is that the best way to deal with pain at the pump is by reducing demand. State and local governments that recognize this reality are going to be better off over the next few decades as our widespread dependence on this disappearing resource is put to the ultimate test.

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