Gasoline consumption in Oregon and Washington increased slightly in 2010, and sales held steady in the first part of 2011. But minor year-to-year fluctuations mask a more important trend: despite steady increases in population, volatile gas prices, and both surges and lulls in the region’s economy, gasoline use has remained essentially flat since 1999.Peak Gas?
From the report:
- Gasoline use has stalled. Total gasoline consumption in Oregon and Washington has remained steady for more than a decade, per capita consumption has been declining since 1989, and vehicle travel reached a plateau in 2002.
- We spend a lot on gas. In 2010, Oregon and Washington spent a combined $16.6 billion on petroleum–nearly all of which leaves the regional economy. So far in 2011, the states are on track to spend nearly $22 billion.
- It’s not the economy. The flat trend has persisted through economic booms and busts. High, volatile gas prices have changed habits more than the current recession.
- Many factors play a role. Aging Baby Boomers, fuel efficiency gains, and cultural changes among younger generations may contribute to the region’s stagnant gasoline consumption.