According to a report from President Obama’s Counsel of Economic Advisors, Americans are using less petroleum/gas than they were 10 years ago. While this would not come as a surprise to most Americans, what is surprising is that we are consuming 25 percent less gas than what we were projected to consume back in 2003. Right now, Americans are consuming 19 million barrels of gas per day – 6.4 million barrels fewer than what experts thought we were going to be consuming at this point in time.
Vehicle travel is by far the biggest determinant of gas usage. President Obama’s programs emphasizing rising vehicular fuel economy standards and the increase in use of ethanol is part of the explanation, but a large factor is that people are simply driving less. Millennials are an obvious explanation, as recent polls of this generation show that 83% of millennials preferred walking over driving whenever feasible. Additionally, baby boomers are supporting the decline in gas consumption as well. “The elderly typically drive fewer miles than younger adults, and the share of elderly in the population has increased over the past decade as the baby boom generation has aged,” the report says.
This should be good news for the environment, since petroleum accounts for a large portion of energy-related CO2 emissions. However, supporters of domestic offshore drilling and those invested in petroleum will likely view this as bad news. Since 2008, America’s production of gas has increased by over three million barrels a day. That could mean an economic impact of around $150 billion being removed from the petroleum industry per year. This decrease in domestic gas usage threatens economic viability of those invested in oil and gas, turning this into a hot-button political issue for the immediate future.