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A Timeline Of Our Gas-Guzzling Nation

Tue, 12/21/2010 - 3:35am
the Associated Press

Experts say U.S. gasoline demand is at the start of a long-term decline following seven decades of mostly uninterrupted growth. Here are key moments marking the rise and fall:

1905 — Country's first gasoline filling station is built in St. Louis.

1946 — Gasoline demand rises 25 percent the year after World War II ends.

1952 — During Korean War, demand falls by 1 percent. It's the only decline between 1945 and 1974.

1974 — Arab oil embargo causes demand to drop by 2 percent. It's the first decline in 22 years.

1975 — U.S. adopts its first fuel economy standards for autos. The nation's fleet averages 13.1 mpg.

1978 — Energy Tax Act includes first subsidy for ethanol.

1980 — Iranian revolution leads to a second "oil shock." From 1978 until 1980, U.S. demand falls 11 percent.

1990 — Ford introduces the Explorer. It was classified as a light truck, and it and other SUVs were exempt from fuel economy rules that apply to cars.

2004 — The fuel economy of the nation's fleet hits its lowest point since 1980, 19.3 mpg.

2005 — High gas prices, elevated in part by Hurricane Katrina, prompt drivers to shun SUVs; Congress requires refiners to blend ethanol into gas.

2006 — Gas demand, excluding ethanol, peaks at 8.9 million barrels per day — 136 billion gallons for the year.

2007 — Congress mandates more ethanol use: 9 billion gallons in 2008, rising to 36 billion gallons in 2022.

2008 — Demand falls 3 percent as recession spreads and pump prices reach record national average of $4.11 per gallon.

2010 — Demand falls for fourth straight year, to an average 8.2 million barrels per day.

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