Per-capita consumption of gasoline in Washington and Oregon is at a 50-year low, with high prices inducing many people to reduce their driving, according to a report from Sightline Institute.
“After decades of steady growth followed by years of level consumption, residents of Oregon and Washington are now using less gas. High, volatile prices; social and technological trends; and changing driving behavior are behind the trend,” Sightline says in summarizing the report findings.
Among other things, the report’s author, Clark Williams-Derry, finds that more efficient cars account for just a small part of the decline. A more significant factor is reduced driving by young people.
In Bellingham, gas prices have dipped in the last 24 hours, according to the AAA survey, but remain at a painfully high average of $4.185 for regular.
I was on vacation in the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming the last couple of weeks, doing my part to increase per capita fuel consumption. It was a shock to go from $3.50 gas in the Plains to the $4.20 gasoline on the West Coast.
Washington state is at or near the top in taxation of gasoline, and a California refinery idled by a fire is causing a supply shortage that is pushing local prices up.