Easing Off the Gas

Northwesterners Using Less Gasoline

Graph of yearly gasoline consumption, 1980-2000

Total gasoline consumption in the Northwest states fell by 180 million gallons between 2007 and 2008. Per-capita use followed a decade-long trend of decline. The Northwest states are outpacing the rest of the nation by nearly 10 percent.
Easing off the Gas: Northwesterners Using Less Gasoline
Go to the press release
See other reports on gasoline consumption in the Northwest

Brief summary: Gas Consumption and Driving Is Down

  • We’re using less gas. Gasoline consumption is falling in the Northwest states Idaho, Oregon and Washington. In 2008, per-person consumption dropped to the lowest level since 1965, and total gasoline consumption had its biggest drop since 1980.
  • Our travel habits are changing. While gasoline prices have been volatile, declines in gasoline consumption per capita have continued through the fluctuations of the last decade. Last year’s dramatic price swings resulted in record-high transit ridership—and for some northwesterners, these changes are sticking.
  • Unemployment is up. Recession has hit the Northwest hard, and many are out of jobs. Last year’s combination of high fuel prices and tight family budgets trimmed fuel consumption dramatically.
  • Smart policies lead to long term progress. Policy changes—like better transportation alternatives and more-compact urban growth—can sustain momentum toward lower gas consumption.
  • Smart investments give us more choices. Declining gas consumption and driving have implications for transportation spending. They suggest prioritizing road maintenance and transit investments over highway building.

Published: July 1, 2009