For immediate release: August 7, 2000
Media Contact: Claudia Chandler -- 916 654-4989

Report Forecasts Increasing Gasoline Use;
Calls for Strides in Energy Efficiency and Alternative Fuels

Sacramento -- If Californians continue their love affair with the automobile, their annual gasoline use will rise to 19.9 billion gallons in 2020, about 40 percent more than what they use today, according to a staff report just released by the California Energy Commission. The report said in-state refining will not keep pace with forecasted growth without major changes.

California's already stressed refineries must increase production or volume of imports, or both, to meet the demand for gasoline and diesel, the report said.

These refineries operate at nearly full capacity to meet today's requirement for California's cleaner gasoline and diesel fuels. Because of the State's geographic location and close balance between fuel demand and production capacity, refinery breakdowns often result in temporary shortages and rapidly rising prices, the report said.

Now available on the Energy Commission's Web Site, the report addresses the importance of having a sustainable transportation energy system. Entitled Transportation Energy Systems, the report is the second part of the Commission's California Energy Outlook 2000 outlining current energy trends and new initiatives to cope with galloping energy use. The first volume, still in the works, deals with electricity.

In addition to the supply adequacy and price of gasoline and diesel, the report discusses the public health and environmental concerns related to the continued use of petroleum as a transportation fuel. The report raises the long-term decline in the production of conventional oil that would increase the potential for higher fuel prices. The report suggests that California begin a gradual transition away from petroleum to other energy sources for transportation.

Two key points raised in the report are the need for a federal waiver of fuel oxygenate requirements and the need for higher fuel economy for automobiles to address short-term and long-term demand and supply issues. To view or download a copy of the report, click on:

According to the report, several major factors are leading to more traffic and increasing fuel need. These factors include economic growth, increased sales of light duty trucks and sport utility vehicles (SUVs), a dearth of electric and alternative fueled vehicles, low cost of driving on a per-mile basis, increasing crude oil prices, and lagging refinery capacity.

Higher fuel prices result in gasoline being imported into California from a handful of refineries worldwide which are capable of producing cleaner burning gasoline. Since these supplies often take two to four weeks by ship to reach its shores, the State's motorists pay higher prices to transport fuel from outside the state.

The report says that the Energy Commission, in cooperation with stakeholders and other government entities, should address these issues, and presents a matrix of solutions.

The Commission is requesting public participation in developing a final set of policy recommendations. Workshops are scheduled for August 22 in Sacramento and August 24 in Los Angeles.

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