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Top 10 US cities best prepared for an oil crisis

San Francisco, CA -- If the price of oil shot to $100 a barrel tomorrow, which American cities would be able to survive economically? SustainLane, the online resource for healthy, sustainable living (, announced this week the ten U.S. cities best suited to withstand the shock of an oil crisis; those whose quality of life and economy would remain unspoiled in the face of exorbitant gas prices. According to the list, New York City would be the best place to live and work under these circumstances. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, would be the most vulnerable to such an event.

Of all the factors considered in the ranking, mobility is most important. All ten cities listed by SustainLane boast strong public transportation networks, which would allow citizens to commute to jobs and schools, as well as do their shopping, if car travel is not affordable. The ranking also takes into account factors such as access to locally-grown fresh food and robust wireless networks for telecommuting.

"Crucial to the economic survival of cities is the ability of employees to get to work and consumers to spend," said Warren Karlenzig, Chief Strategy Officer of SustainLane. “A solid public transportation system will get workers to the office and shoppers to the mall, regardless of the price of oil. These systems, like Chicago’s El, provide critical insurance against the overt threat of sky-high oil prices."

“If you’re counting on produce flown in from Chile, your dinner is going to be very expensive during a crisis,” adds SustainLane President and CEO James Elsen. “The cities on this list offer their citizens locally-grown food options that will keep groceries affordable – even when gas is not.”

The top ten best prepared cities are, in order:

1. New York, NY
2. Boston, MA
3. San Francisco, CA
4. Chicago, IL
5. Philadelphia, PA
6. Portland, OR
7. Honolulu, HI
8. Seattle, WA
9. Baltimore, MD
10.Oakland, CA

Said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in response to the SustainLane ranking: "Public transportation is a key element in city planning, and it iscritical in this time of global warming and volatile petroleum availability that we work to make our transit options not dependent solely on fossil fuel. By putting transit first, we’re helping San Francisco and the Bay Area maintain a livable and strong economy. Residents spend less on gas, which is often processed from foreign oil, so more money stays in the local economy. And as a side benefit, by taking public transit we are able to reduce our contribution to the emissions that cause global warming."

Said Richard M. Daley in response to the ranking: "Without a national energy focus, cities have to do all they can to use domestically produced fuels and reduce energy consumption. In addition to making our fleets more efficient, Chicago is leading by example with our approach to alternative fuel use."

SustainLane’s ranking criteria focused on oil and gasoline as an energy source needed for mobility, rather than energy needed for heating (primarily from natural gas or coal). Heaviest weighting went to commute-to-work data, regional public transportation ridership, and urban sprawl data. Reduced weighting was placed on freeway/street congestion, the availability of local food and wireless network availability. Data, from 2002-2005, was collected from U.S. Bureau of the Census, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Smart Growth America, Intel Corp., Texas Mobility Study/Texas A&M, and through primary research with U.S. cities.

Data for these rankings covers 2002-2006 and was collected from U.S. Bureau of the Census, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Smart Growth America, Intel Corp., Texas Mobility Study/Texas A&M, and through primary research with U.S. cities.

About SustainLane

SustainLane, the leading online destination for healthy and sustainable living, provides information, tools and community to help you live a healthy and sustainable life. SustainLane, founded in 2004, helps connect cities, citizens and entrepreneurial businesses with three integrated content offerings: healthy lifestyle information, an annual sustainable city study and local living directory / shopping guide. To learn more about SustainLane, visit Its 2006 U.S. City Rankings sustainability benchmark ranking of the country’s 50 largest cities is set to be released in June 2006.

Editorial Notes: More at the SustainLane site. -BA

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