Big oil execs, analysts, and government sources say a century-old American tradition is waning: after years of increasing oil consumption, US guzzling has peaked, they believe. Last year, demand plunged 7.1% for gas, diesel, and jet fuel—the biggest drop since 1950, when dependable records began. And major changes for the oil industry mean big changes for government budgets and consumers alike, the Wall Street Journal reports.
An array of factors are behind the drop in demand: gas is being burned more efficiently, Americans are buying hybrid cars, and biofuels are replacing gas. Meanwhile, government measures are pushing consumption “down, down, down,” says an analyst, and many consumers are driving less. Among the effects: refineries and gas stations are closing down, and with less money from the gas tax, government branches are struggling to maintain roads.