Saving Oil = Saving Money
The graphic shows gasoline consumption by state both overall and per capita.
The statewide numbers are not terribly surprising - more populous states obviously use more gasoline. But the per capita usage offers more interesting information about how we use energy in our cars throughout the country.
Those in large western states tend to drive more than those in smaller eastern states. But what about tiny New Jersey, which is well above average, or expansive Utah, which is well below? States like New York, Massachusetts, and Oregon have access to extensive public transportation systems and incentives for efficient vehicles that allow travelers to avoid pain at the pump. But that doesn't seem to have much of an impact in Maryland or Virginia.
While it is unclear what might be driving these numbers in states around the country, what is clear is the financial impact of these numbers on consumers. NRDC's annual report Fighting Oil Addiction: Ranking States' Oil Vulnerability and Solutions for Change (fact sheet; full report) looks at the impacts of a hypothetical oil price spike on drivers in each of the 50 states, as well what states are doing to protect drivers from taking such a hit.
Oil dependence affects every state, but drivers in some states would be hit harder economically than others. The trends in states' vulnerability to oil price increases over the past couple of years are not encouraging -- drivers in every state were more vulnerable to price spikes in 2008 than they were in 2006. Finally, while some states are pioneering solutions and many are taking some action, a fair number of states are still taking few (if any) of the steps needed to reduce their oil dependence and spare consumers from the rising cost of oil.
As my colleague Luke shows here, policies to reduce oil dependence through vehicle efficiency would also help cut consumers' transportation costs.
Similarly, the landmark report Moving Cooler found major consumer cost savings from policies to increase the efficiency of our transportation system and offer cleaner transportation choices.
Saving oil means saving money. With energy experts forecasting a summer of rising oil prices(though fortunately not as high as the record prices of 2008), both states and the federal government need to takes steps now to reduce our dependence on oil and spare us from the cost of our addiction.