Second annual report ranks Tennessee 17th hardest hit by increasing fuel prices

Second annual report ranks Tennessee 17th hardest hit by increasing fuel prices
Chattanooga — States that adopt laws promoting clean and efficient vehicles and investing in public transit are helping protect their citizens from high oil prices, according to a new report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The report highlights two critical areas related to our nation’s addiction to oil: vulnerability to high oil prices and implementation by states of alternatives and solutions. The oil vulnerability ranking is based on the average percentage of income that states’ drivers spend on gasoline. Drivers in Tennessee spend nearly 6 percent of their incomes on gasoline — that is nearly twice more than what drivers in some states spend. “This report shows that when oil prices go up, families in some states are hit much harder than others because they are paying a greater percentage of their income at the gas pump,” said Deron Lovaas, Transportation Policy Director at NRDC. “The good news is that some states are enacting policies that give consumers vehicle and transportation choices. But more states need to do the same, and federal policymakers must follow suit by boosting fuel economy standards, supporting a firm limit on global warming pollution and investing in more efficient transportation alternatives like commuter rail.” Jim Frierson of the Advanced Transportation Technology Institute in Chattanooga commented, “These new rankings are a useful guide because they are based on solid analysis and objective findings. Tennessee appears in the middle of the pack on both scales. We can’t do much about the global price for petroleum, but we certainly are smart enough to adopt the full range of state and local policies that can mitigate the obvious economic harm to our citizens and communities.” “Fighting Oil Addiction: Ranking States’ Oil Vulnerability and Solutions for Change” underscores that what we drive, how often we drive, and what energy we use are at the core of America’s 21-million-barrel-per-day oil habit. America’s addiction to oil continues to threaten our economic viability, national security and global environmental health. The states in which drivers are most at risk to high gas prices increases are Mississippi, South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Kentucky, New Mexico, Indiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Iowa. Tennessee follows close behind ranking 17th highest percent of driver income dedicated to fuel costs. Drivers in the most vulnerable state — Mississippi — spend an average of more than 8 percent of their income on gasoline while Connecticut drivers, the least vulnerable state, spent 3.17 percent of income on fuel. Tennessee does not rank in the top tier of states doing the most to promote energy-saving policies to reduce their oil dependency and protect their residents from oil price spikes. Those that are making a concerted effort are California, New York, Connecticut, Washington, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New Mexico, Colorado and Maryland. In our current ranking at 21st in this category, Tennessee shows that it recognizes the problem of oil vulnerability but has not embraced policies that aid consumers. The report outlines solutions to reduce oil vulnerability and protect citizens from increases in gas prices, and highlights which states have adopted policies that provide alternatives to driving long distances in inefficient vehicles filled with conventional gasoline. These solutions are policies that promote clean cars, clean energy, research and development, and smart growth and public transit can help insulate consumers from volatile gas prices. “The leading states are now providing incentives for purchase of hybrid and plug-in (grid-connected) hybrid and electric vehicles. They are setting standards for greenhouse gas emissions and numerical goals for reduction of total vehicle miles traveled. That is the only way to measure progress,” said Frierson. A copy of the full report may be found at http://www.nrdc.org/energy/states/contents.asp. Published in The Messenger 7.24.08

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