Report: Mississippi, Montana, Louisiana and Oklahoma most vulnerable to oil spikes

Gas Vulnerability Now

A new report finds that comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation is needed to protect Americans from oil shock.  Brad Johnson has the details in this repost.

America’s exposure to oil spikes acts as a crippling do-nothing energy tax. In a white paper prepared for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), David Gardiner and Associates explore the vulnerability of the United States to price spikes in the oil market, such as the one in 2008 that drove the average cost of gasoline above four dollars, if it happened now, in the midst of a recession. The report finds that Mississippi, Montana, Louisiana, and Oklahoma residents are most vulnerable to a new price shock, as about 10 percent of the average driver’s income would be spent on gasoline:

If prices spiked again, Connecticut and New York drivers’ spending on gasoline would go up moderately, to around 4.3 percent; Mississippi drivers, on the other hand, could see their spending on gasoline skyrocket to more than 11 percent.


Unfortunately for their citizens, these most vulnerable states are largely represented by senators with deep ties to the oil industry who dismiss the threat of global warming: Republicans Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Republicans Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker of Mississippi, and Democrat Mary Landrieu and Republican David Vitter of Louisiana. Even the Democratic senators of Montana, Max Baucus and Jon Tester, have merely indicated openness to capping our dependence on oil and confronting the climate threat.

A bright spot comes for the residents of the fifth most vulnerable state, South Carolina, where Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is working on comprehensive climate legislation with Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). Graham’s work in building the green economy is earning praise from the Christian Coalition and local veterans, both of whom recognize the dangers of oil addiction to our nation.

“America’s dependence on oil is problematic in several ways,” the authors write:

  • The United States has less than 2 percent of the world’s oil supplies but is responsible for about a quarter of the world’s oil consumption. We currently import almost two-thirds of our crude oil supply from foreign countries, and more and more of the world’s future supply will come from regions that are either politically unstable or unfriendly to U.S. interests.
  • Our dependence on unstable oil supplies threatens our national economy, particularly since about 96 percent of our transportation system is reliant on oil.
  • Oil consumption is a leading contributor to the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that cause global warming. In the United States, the oil-based transportation system is responsible for roughly one-third of our global warming pollution.

To respond to these combined threats from oil vulnerability, the report concludes that Congress must:

  • Pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation that limits carbon dioxide emissions, helps us break our oil addiction, and invests in creating millions of clean energy jobs here in the United States.
  • Fundamentally reform federal transportation policy to support smart, public transportation-oriented development; assist states and regions in saving oil; and provide ample funding for energy-efficient transportation alternatives including rail and bus lines, bike paths, sidewalks, and other alternatives to driving.

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8 Responses to Report: Mississippi, Montana, Louisiana and Oklahoma most vulnerable to oil spikes

  1. Skip Dihlay says:

    The greatest imppact is on poor people. The poor also have the least money to upgrade to cars with better gas mileage. The unemployed are hurt 2 ways.

  2. Berbalang says:

    Locally the price of gas jumped up about 20 cents in the last few days. Another jump like that and we will be above $3 a gallon gas. (Price yesterday evening was $2.88 a gallon.)

  3. charlie says:

    This chart is more than useless – it is dangerous.

    You could just rename it as “people who would be hurt the most by a carbon tax and/or gas tax”.

    [JR: You could rename it that, but it wouldn’t be true. Why? First off, pricing carbon has different regional impacts. Second, Congress is not currently considering a carbon tax and the carbon pricing schemes in the bills being considered all give the money back to lower income voters.]

    Yes, poor rural people have to drive a lot and are price sensitive. Who knew? And yes, the respond to price signals. Cash-for-clunkers was a great way for a lot of them to get out of cheap old pickups.

  4. Leif says:

    Charlie, ##: Cash-for-clunkers was a great way for a lot of them to get out of cheap old pickups. However to have been able to take advantage if the opportunity those folks had to have had a job and cash flow in the first place.

  5. PseudoNoise says:

    Can I just say that’s the worst color scale I’ve ever seen? 6% and 9% are darker than 7%. Look at North Dakota between Michigan and Wisconsin — you’d guess ND is the best off, but it’s not!

    Somebody send the “colorbrewer” link to these guys.

  6. Mike#22 says:

    Interesting, if you changed the color scale to:

    Red–most vulnerable

    Blue–least vulnerable

    It looks very much like the 2008 presidential election map.

  7. charlie says:

    @mike#22; exactly. These are people who are very very aware of how much gas costs. I get Joe’s point that the current plans include a tax rebate — and if you include withholding in that it would a huge difference in monthly cash flow — but convincing them to pay more at the pump is going to be tough.

    I do think these people understand that every dollar of oil we buy funds terrorists, and perhaps a 3 part plan to:

    1) increase gas taxes (with rebates)
    2) increase domestic production
    3) find some way to tax non-Mexcian+Canadians oil imports

    would work.

  8. Mike#22 says:

    Charlie, my impression of the chart is rather different. The red states are more dependent on imports.

    They lean more towards a transporation system needing foreign products.

    Still looks red to me.