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Gasoline. Sweet, glorious, beautiful gasoline. Liquid gold. The magic elixir. The source of life.

It might sound foolish, but is there any other precious commodity whose prices so drastically impact our daily lives?

It was the dizzying spike in fuel costs in the summer of 2008 -- when gas prices took a rocket ride to more than $4 per gallon -- that caused a profound shift in car buyers’ preferences and choices. That prompted consumers to stampede away from popular, gas-chugging SUVs in favor of smaller, more fuel-efficient models.

That, in turn, lit a fire under the carmakers to improve the fuel economy of their existing models as fast as they could and to push new, even more efficient models through the product pipeline as expeditiously as possible.

But given the volatility of oil prices (the cost of gas plummeted at the end of ’08, then gradually crept back up to the $3-per-gallon range by this past April) are we to believe prices will stay low or spike this year? Might an unforeseen global development – like political / military turmoil in an oil-producing nation, or the Gulf Coast being hit by a couple of severe hurricanes -- cause prices to spike again?

Or, will prices go up again when the economy recovers -- a prediction that economists have been making for months?

Most Vunerable States

StatePercent of Income (Dollar Amount)
Mississippi 6.22% ($1880.95)
Montana 5.88% ($2017.96)
Louisiana 5.26% ($1908.72)
Oklahoma 5.12% ($1830.77)
South Carolina 5.06% ($1638.98)
Kentucky 5.02% ($1583.50)
Texas 4.87% ($1818.89)
Maine 4.65% ($1700.66)
Georgia 4.64% ($1595.08)
Idaho 4.54% ($1467.33)

 

The answer: nobody knows for sure. That kind of volatility and unpredictability is what is so maddening.

A recent study describes, in detailed fashion, the direct economic impact that gas prices have on everyday Americans. It reveals how big the gulf is between the most vulnerable and least vulnerable states, in terms of what percentage of a car owner’s total income goes toward buying gas. If another gas price hike were to occur, it would only exacerbate that chasm.

According to the study, prepared by the consulting firm of David Gardiner & Associates on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the 10 most vulnerable states (ranked from most to least vulnerable), are: Mississippi, Montana, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Kentucky, Texas, Maine, Georgia and Idaho.

Meanwhile, the 10 least vulnerable states (from most to least) are: Florida, Washington, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Colorado, New Hampshire, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut. (See the full report with a complete ranking of the states -- and the data for each state.)

According to the study, car owners in Mississippi spent more than 6 percent of their income on gasoline in ‘09, while citizens in Connecticut and New York spent only about 2.5 percent of their income on fuel. But 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.

As one might expect, the NRDC is pushing hard for the federal government to enact new, bolder energy policies, and re-prioritize transportation spending, in order to combat the economic hardship caused by any potential price spikes, either in the short or long term. Specifically, in order to cut America’s dependence on oil and help reduce the risk of oil and gas price spikes, the report recommended that Congress:

1 - “Pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation that limits carbon dioxide emissions, helps us break our oil addiction, and helps create millions of clean energy jobs here in the United States; and

2 - “Fundamentally reform federal transportation policy to support smart, transit-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.”

“Our addiction to oil is harming us economically, both as a nation and as individuals, and any increase in gas prices would add to that burden,” said Deron Lovaas, NRDC’s transportation expert. “That’s why we feel strongly that Congress needs to put even more emphasis on clean energy and climate solutions, which would not only be better for the environment, but would also help the economy.

“We’re interested in ways to decrease the demand for oil, not increase the supply.”

Elizabeth Hogan, an analyst at David Gardiner & Associates and the co-author of the report, echoes those sentiments.

“It’s important that the federal government pushes for more efficient vehicles and alternative fuels that are cleaner, and that it focuses on better public transportation and smart growth,” said Hogan. “That would really help putting an end to this unhealthy addiction we have to oil. And this report will hopefully get the attention of Congressmen in the most vulnerable states, and let them know just how severely gas prices impact the people they represent.”


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  • 111 Comments
      arvig
      • 6 Months Ago
      Cnakao534 posted this "tidbit": "HUSSEIN OBAMA IS A FAKE, WHY IS HE STILL LETTING CAR MANUFACTURING MAKE THIS BIG TRUCKS AND SAY WE NEED TO SAVE FUEL . THERE IS MORE TRUCKS ON THE ROAD WITH JUST ONE PERSON IN IT. TIME TO KICK HIM OUT." My reply: Uh-huh. Hussein Obama? Yes, his middle name is Hussein. I'm sure you're one of those "people" who thinks he's a Muslim and/or wasn't born in the USA. Sorry, but he was born in the USA, all the birther claims HAVE been debunked. Only brainwashed idiots who want to believe something DESPITE the truth think otherwise. Same with him being Muslim, he isn't. (And no, I'm not an Obama supporter. Nor am I a "liberal" or for that matter "conservative". I'm something most political bashers can't even comprehend. A moderate who isn't a zealot toward either of the "big 2" political parties in the USA). As for letting car manufacturers make big trucks, could it be that some people actually use a pickup for...GASP hauling things? Yes, some people buy a pickup just for the "image" that a pickup has, but some people really do use them let's say to haul their tools to a construction site. Now do we need more economical cars? Sure. But forcing car manufacturers to not be able to build all sorts of vehicles would only just bankrupt them (and gee, we already had that happen to a few of those recently, or do you remember that...). So please, before you go into an angry rant (which typing in all caps DOES imply...it doesn't make your post easier to read or more valid, it just makes you sound like you're throwing a fit) maybe consider the truth? Then again you're implying that you think Obama is a Muslim by calling him "Hussein Obama" too, so considering the truth is probably difficult for you.
      ajp0007
      • 6 Months Ago
      THIS GULF COAST MESS REVEALS THERES MORE OIL AVAILABLE THEN THE OCEAN CAN HOLD. GREED,GREED AND MORE GREED. PERHAPS THE END OF OUR PLANET IS NEAR. THIS PROVES GAS IS WORTH TWO CENT A GALLON. THERES MORE OIL IN THE GROUND THEN WHAT THE PUBLIC HAS BEEN TOLD. BP KNOWS EXACTLY HOW MANY GALLONS OF OIL WILL SPEW FROM THAT BROKEN PIPE. TO HONESTLY THINK THAT THE AMERICAN PUBLIC IS BEING FOOLED IS BEYOND MY COMPREHENSION. GREED MADE THIS MESS AND THE POLITICANS ARE WALKING SLOW ON THIS MATTER BECAUSE CAMPAIGN FUNDS IN THE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS HAVE BEEN THERE REWARD. THEY WILL DO NOTHING UNTIL THE SEA TURNS BROWN AND BY THEN IT WILL BE TOO LATE.
      FRED
      • 6 Months Ago
      I bought gas here in southeastern Michigan for 2.50 a gallon, seems pretty good to me.
      MSmailbox
      • 6 Months Ago
      We used to be able to get 6 (or more) grades of gas, at Sunoco. My favorite was the Sunoco 260, however, I have burned Sunoco 240, as well. Talk about choice, Sunoco gave us the most options of any station, in town. I still wonder how they did it! Did they have over half a dozen tanks, underground? It seems a bit much, to me. Kinda like buying NSAIDS (aspirin, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, acetaminophen...)... There are only 5 or 6 actual "active" OTC pain releivers, but they are marketed in over 100 different ways, making for an entire aisle, at Walgreens! Choice is good, but enough is enough. Consolodate!
      MSmailbox
      • 6 Months Ago
      OK, I'm back... I drove to Shell (same brand as in the picture) and regular was $2.569 per gallon. That's only 67 cents difference, so I assume that the picture IS recent, but from another state. Prices on ethyl, were not posted! MS Saint Louis, Missouri
      • 6 Months Ago
      I drive 50 miles each way from work on Long Island. I had to buy a used 4 cylinder because it was costing me over $100 a week just to commute. Prices keep going up here. Over $3 a gallon just for regular 87.
      MSmailbox
      • 6 Months Ago
      I believe that those who believe, that we should stop cruising, should be the first to stop cruising. We will observe your quality of life, happiness-index and other spurious factors. If we should determine, that your lifestyle has benefitted substantially, then we will consider trying it, ourselves. Copious amounts of engineering have been expended to make our highways safe for a certain speeds and volume. For instance, curves are banked at an angle to accomodate 70 MPH. Now, lets say that you go around it at an unsafe speed (55 MPH)... What happens? Your absolutely correct! The car will slide down the grade and you will run off the road. Sure, we saved 29.237 cents on gasoline, but we also just paid a $500 deductable and our insurance rates will go up, because your vehicle was washed-out (totaled). You make the choice.
      • 6 Months Ago
      I think we are still operating on the assumption that these people have basic morals. Someone wrote once, that only a moral society can truly reap the benefits of the freedoms we HAD in America. Now we have greed, lying, and a manipulation for ************ sad to say that I don't think their is any hope because men have become so evil and self absorbed.
      • 6 Months Ago
      The handwriting has been on the wall at least since the 1973 Oil Embargo when Americans had to wait in long gas lines for hours just to fill up their tanks. If that wasn't enough to wake people up, our dangerous dependence on foreign oil was again highlighted in the 1979 oil crisis as a result of the Iranian Hostage Crisis. My wife and I began purchasing nothing but four cylinder cars in 1974 as a result. We were never a part of the problem. Unfortunately many other people allowed themselves to be convinced that, "Bigger was Better." The American automobile industry consistently fought efforts by Congress to enforce better fuel economy standards. They pressured Congress to enact a loophole to EPA average fuel economy standards for "light trucks" which was only supposed to be for the benefit of farmers and ranchers. Then Detroit literally drove a fleet of trucks through that exception by inventing the so-called "Sport Utility Vehicle" which most Americans did not need and did not know how to drive. And they represented by then used sophisticated psychology to convince people that they really needed these vehicles. These "patriotic" "Buy American" automakers then sold America down the tubes. They put us at the mercy of Saudi Arabia and other Oil States represented by OPEC, who used petro dollars to secretly fund radical Islamic organizations who now threaten our very existence. Nice job! I have to admit that I had very little sympathy for General Motors when they were going into bankruptcy. They did it to themselves. And our Gutless Congress gave special tax breaks to business owners who bought big gas guzzlers for general business use, but gave no tax incentives for people who bought energy efficient cars. So am I pissed off much?! What do you think? I am really embarrassed that there are so many ignorant, irresponsible people in this Country. It's not really patriotic to be stupid. Get informed. Our very lives, peace and security are at stake. As well as the fate of Human Civilization. Just call me Crusader Duck
      cnakao534
      • 6 Months Ago
      HUSSEIN OBAMA IS A FAKE, WHY IS HE STILL LETTING CAR MANUFACTURING MAKE THIS BIG TRUCKS AND SAY WE NEED TO SAVE FUEL . THERE IS MORE TRUCKS ON THE ROAD WITH JUST ONE PERSON IN IT. TIME TO KICK HIM OUT.
      • 6 Months Ago
      There are about 12 different blends of gasoline sold in the US to answer cruzinjoe61 question. Aloha from Hawaii wher it sell for $3.35 a gallon for reg on Oahu.
      ofalaska
      • 6 Months Ago
      Hello? I live in Alaska where we have the highest prices in the nation and it's not even on the list. We're a STATE, not a foreign country. Oh, by the way, ANWR has 15-50 BILLION BARRELS
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