Californians’ gas consumption drops 5 percent; diesel drops 11 percent

     Statewide, we’re burning less gas — and it’s a fair bet the same is true for Inland Empire commuters.

     Californians bought 65 million gallons less in May 2008 than in May 2007 — a 5-percent drop, according to a report released last week Aug.28 by the state’s Board of Equalization.

     That’s on top of last month’s year-over-year decline. The board said that commuters purchased 2.2 percent less gas in April this year versus April 2007, a 28 million-gallon drop.

     The average price for a gallon of gas in the San Bernardino-Riverside metropolitan region has been dropping for more than 50 days from a peak of $4.61 in June, but it’s still higher than the $2.73 locals paid one year ago.

     On Friday, the average local price was $3.86 a gallon.

     Diesel fuel consumed in California in May dropped 225 million gallons — a whopping 11-percent drop when compared to May 2007.

     “The numbers confirm what every hard-working family knows,” said Michelle Steel, 3rd district board member, in a news release. “When gas prices go up, consumption goes down.”

     Consumption might be heading down hill, but the state’s gas tax revenue is going up.

     “The BOE estimates that nearly twice as much sales tax is generated annually by higher gasoline prices than five years ago,” the release said. “Those higher prices generated approximately $3.6 billion in sales tax during 2007 when the average price (per gallon in California) was $3.12. In contrast, 2003′s gasoline sales generated $2.1 billion when the average pump price was $1.88.”

     –matthew.wrye@inlandnewspapers.com

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