NEW YORK - As drivers scout for lower gasoline prices going into the Memorial Day holiday weekend, a report concluded that states on the West Coast and in the Northeast are doing the best job of easing the burden on drivers' pocketbooks.
"Smart transportation policies can reduce gas bills for all drivers, no matter where they live," said Deron Lovaas, federal transportation policy director for the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council, which issued the report.
The report, "Fighting Oil Addiction: Ranking States' Gasoline Price Vulnerability and Solutions for Change," also found that West Coast and Northeast states were doing the most to promote clean energy technologies and cut oil dependence.
Heartland and Midwest states, including Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Indiana and Ohio were doing the least.
The rankings did not consider subsidies to alternative fuels such as ethanol made from corn from some Midwestern states.
"West Virginia, for example, provides an investment tax credit for coal-based synthetic fuels, which are incredibly carbon intensive. And debates continue with respect to the climate benefits of some biofuels," the report said.
Using 2010 price data the report also ranked vulnerability to increases by analyzing gas prices, income and usage state-by-state.
For a fifth straight year Connecticut was least-vulnerable, with residents spending less than 3 percent of income on gas, while Mississippi was the most vulnerable with drivers shelling out more than 7 percent.
South Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia, Idaho, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Arkansas and Iowa followed.
"Many of the states where drivers are paying the most at the pump are the states offering drivers the least policy relief," the report's co-author, David Gardner & Associates analyst Elizabeth Hogan said.
States should promote accessible public transit systems and assistance, as well as telecommuting, and establish policies to reduce sprawl, the report said.
On the federal level, it stressed ramped up investment in public transportation and infrastructure maintenance, increasing fuel efficiency standards and the establishment of a national oil savings objective.
(Reporting by Chris Michaud; Editing by Greg McCune)