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.

See other reports on gasoline consumption in the Northwest

September 12, 2011