Earth Day: Five ways we affect the planet

3. Daily commute: 25 minutes

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    Automobiles wait in a traffic jam in New York City in this 2007 file photo. Although Americans are spending more time commuting, they're using less gasoline.
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Two oil embargoes in the 1970s spurred Americans to buy more fuel-efficient cars. But that did little to reduce congestion. In 2010, Americans spent an average 25.3 minutes getting to work, up about 12 seconds from 2009. The state with the longest average commute time? Maryland, where commuters take 31.8 minutes to get to work. The shortest average commute is in North Dakota: 16.1 minutes.

The good news? Even though Americans are spending more time on the road, they're using less gasoline. In 2007, gasoline use peaked at 142.4 billion gallons. By 2011, it was down to 134 billion gallons, a 6 percent decline. High gasoline prices may have something to do with that. In March, the most expensive gasoline was in  Santa Barbara, Calif., averaging $4.35 a gallon.

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