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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.

Rogers, a senior adviser to the Energy Secretary. (Photo: Recharge

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.

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