Obama Energy Aide: ‘We Probably Saw Peak Demand for Gas … in 2007′

The decline in American driving that began at the start of the recession, fueled by record-high gas prices, came to an end late last year. But the Obama administration believes that its transport and energy policies have ushered in a long-term shift, "changing the fuel mix in ways that will drive down gasoline demand," according to a senior adviser to Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

webrogers_33498b.jpgMatt Rogers, a senior adviser to the Energy Secretary. (Photo: Recharge News)

The Chu adviser, Matt Rogers, made his comments on gas demand during a House hearing last week.

His remarks appeared to reflect a high degree of confidence within the administration that even if the nation's vehicle miles traveled continue to increase, the total energy consumption of U.S. transportation would decrease thanks to the rise of alternative-fuel vehicles such as hybrids and plug-in electric cars.

One of the most remarkable changes that has already occurred is we probably saw the peak demand for gasoline in the United States in 2007. And since then, the demand for gasoline has been going down in the United States and will continue to go down for more than the next decade as a result of a combination of renewable fuels, CAFE standards, and an increasing electrification of the transportation fleets.

So, we are seeing in front of us right now, a restructuring of the transportation sector to allow it to require substantially less fossil fuel ... you can actually see demand going down even as the economy continues to grow.

Rogers' remarks track with the conclusions of the Energy Information Administration, which predicted last year that the growing popularity of fuel-efficient vehicles would make 2007 the peak of demand, and the U.S. DOT's research arm, where the most recent available data shows a drop in demand for refined petroleum products in 2008.

The total energy consumption of the transport sector also fell in 2008 by more than 1 quadrillion Btus (British thermal units). Government energy data from last year, when the downturn in nationwide driving began to reverse itself, is not yet available.