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California Fuel Consumption Rises—First Time in Eight Years

For the first time since 2006, gasoline consumption in California increased from the prior fiscal year. From July 2013 through June 2014, consumption increased 1 percent.
December 4, 2014, 7am PST | Irvin Dawid
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Mark Glover of the Sacramento Bee writes that the "California Board of Equalization (BOE) characterized both gains as byproducts of an improving economy," as opposed to a decrease in gas prices, which declined 2.5 percent to an average price of $3.92 from $4.02 the previous year.

BOE’s report said that Californians consumed more than 14.57 billion gallons of gasoline in fiscal 2013-14, compared with about 14.44 billion gallons the prior year.

However, that's still well below the 2006 consumption of "nearly 16 billion gallons in 2006," writes Glover. "(D)eclining consumption has been partly due to a proliferation of hybrids and more fuel-efficient vehicles, plus generally higher gas prices."

David R. Baker of the San Francisco Chronicle adds that "state government also made cutting gasoline use part of its fight against global warming, pushing for higher mileage standards and offering rebates to drivers who buy plug-in cars."

Of course, this report does not include the rapid decline in gas prices seen since the summer. The average price of gasoline in the Golden State on Dec. 1 was $3.05, down 87 cents or 22 percent from last year's average price.

And unlike hybrid sales, which have seen a decline in sales recently, the low gas prices, combined with an improved economy are spurring light truck and SUV salesUSA Today reports that November sales of SUVs were "the best since 2001."

While it may be premature to predict this year's fuel consumption, I think it safe to say that the state is well on track to exceeding the increases made this past fiscal year. As to whether it exceeds the 2006 record—we'll await the next report from the BOE. And hopefully the California Air Resources Board will have something to report on the effect of increasing gasoline consumption on greenhouse gas emissions.

Full Story:
Published on Tuesday, December 2, 2014 in The Sacramento Bee
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