Wow. The Washington State Office of Financial Management’s most recent forecasts predict a steady decline in statewide gasoline consumption, through at least 2027. Just take a look at the chart below, from p. 18 of their most recent transportation revenue forecast.
But based on past years’ data, statewide gasoline consumption is actually down slightly from its all-time high in 2002/2003. (The state figures I’ve got say 2002, but the Feds say 2003.) So if you believe the forecasts, Washington actually hit “peak gas” nearly a decade ago!!
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Be careful about reading too much into the numbers. The state is still forecasting a continued rise in diesel consumption, from a little over 600 million gallons in 2010 to nearly 1.1 billion gallons in 2030. Likewise, the state still predicts a steady rise in total vehicle miles traveled (though the VMT forecasts have been dialed way, way back from where they were a few years ago).
So the projections of declining gas consumption mostly reflect a steady improvement in the mpg of the Washington vehicle fleet, driven by rising federal standards for new vehicles. Still, it’s interesting to see how starkly these forecasts have changed, compared with what they looked like a few years back—when the standard assumption was that gasoline consumption would continue to rise indefinitely. Times, they are a changin’.
[Hat tip to Joe Cortright for the find.]