Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Report Ranks States Most Vulnerable to Rising Gas Prices, Offers Solutions

NRDC Press Release

Better Transportation Policies Key to Reducing Dependence on Oil

Rising gas prices are hitting drivers all across the country, but states with smart transportation policies can help their drivers feel less pain at the pump, according to a new report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

In the 2011 edition of "Fighting Oil Addiction: Ranking States' Gasoline Price Vulnerability and Solutions for Change," NRDC and David Gardiner & Associates analyze state policies that help drivers, including tele-commuting options, transit spending, efforts to reduce sprawl, and other options.

"There is no immediate solution to high gas prices, but smart transportation polices can reduce gas bills for all drivers, no matter where they live," said Deron Lovaas, NRDC's federal transportation policy director. "Better state policies that give residents transportation options, such as transit assistance and telecommuting options, can provide relief. Federal action -- such as increasing vehicle fuel efficiency standards to 60 miles per gallon -- would reduce oil price vulnerability across the board. We know we can't drill our way toward lower gas prices, so policies like these deliver."

According to the report, the 10 states that are doing the most to promote clean energy technologies and reduce their dependence on oil are: #1 California, #2 Oregon, #3 Massachusetts, #4 New York , #5 New Jersey, #6 Maryland, #7 Connecticut, #8 Rhode Island, #9 Washington, #10 Vermont. ...

Regardless of how urban or rural the state, transportation is something everyone needs," said Elizabeth Hogan, an analyst at David Gardiner and Associates and co-author of the report. "Many of the states where drivers are paying the most at the pump are the states offering drivers the least policy relief. Looking at all of the options available to state policymakers, it's clear which states are taking advantage of all the opportunities available to them."

The report recommends that states establish policies that reduce sprawl, reduce the number of miles that citizens need to travel in vehicles to get to work or school or other daily tasks, and promote accessible public transit systems.

On the federal level, the report also recommends stronger investment in public transportation and in the maintenance and repair of decaying infrastructure, as well as establishment of a national oil-savings objective.

Note that while I criticized somewhat the recent Brookings Institution report on transit access, its conclusions dovetail with this report, although more focused on metropolitan areas, and their need to coordinate land use and transportation planning policies to reduce sprawl. Also see the Neil Peirce column, "Public Transit, Access to Jobs: Escaping Our “Exit Ramp” Economy," which extends this point.

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