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California tops list of states trying to reduce oil dependency

July 22, 2008 |  2:39 pm

The Natural Resources Defense Council released its second annual "Fighting Oil Addiction" report today in which they ranked states by their "oil vulnerability" -- those most affected by spikes in oil prices -- and listed the states that are doing the most to "wean themselves from oil."

California topped the list of states trying to reduce their oil dependency, according to the report. It was followed by New York, Connecticut, Washington, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New Mexico, Colorado and Maryland.

The states in which drivers were most vulnerable to increased gas prices were led by Mississippi, followed by South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Kentucky, New Mexico, Indiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Iowa.

"Our oil vulnerability ranking is based on the average percentage of income that states’ drivers spend on gasoline. Generally, the most vulnerable states are in the South and the least vulnerable are in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region. And the differences are significant. Average drivers in the most vulnerable state, Mississippi, spend almost 8 percent of their income on gasoline, while average drivers in the least vulnerable state, Connecticut, spend about 3 percent of theirs. As oil prices go up, drivers in the vulnerable states are feeling the pinch more."

According to the report, California drivers on average spent 5.38%  (or $2,234.33), of their annual income on gasoline.  Mississippi drivers, on the other hand, spent 7.87% (2,268.82) on gas in 2007.

The study also listed the states doing the least to reduce oil dependency. That list was led by Alaska, followed by Mississippi, Alabama, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, West Virginia, Arkansas, Missouri and Delaware.

California was singled out in the report for leading the nation in its strict emissions standards as part of "clean cars" standards as well as its low-carbon fuel standard. The study said such programs in addition to "smart growth," such as improved land use policies to reduce urban sprawl and investment in public transit, were successful state policies to that have led to reduced oil dependence.

The report urges federal policies that "complement and support" state actions.

--Tami Abdollah