Skip to contentUnited States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway AdministrationSearch FHWAFeedback
Policy Information

Best for printing: mffaqs.pdf (23 KB)

To view PDF files, you need the Acrobat® Reader®.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is motor fuel?

Motor fuel is gasoline, gasohol, highway diesel, and highway liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and alternative fuels. A more detailed definition of these fuel types and reporting requirements for motor fuel gallons and receipts are included in the Guide to Reporting Highway Statistics, Chapter 2 – Reports Identifying Motor-Fuel Use and Taxation. The website for Chapter 2 is http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/hss/guide/ch2.cfm.

Who is responsible for reporting motor fuel data?

Motor fuel data is reported to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Office of Highway Policy Information on FHWA Form 551M by the State agency that collects the motor fuel tax. The agency responsible for this reporting could include the Departments of Transportation, Departments of Revenue, or Departments of Motor Vehicles. The form should then be transmitted to FHWA not later than 90 days after the close of the month for which data are being reported. The data are submitted directly into the Office of Highway Information using the FUELS/FASH software application.

What is included in the data reported?

States report all consumption of gasoline and gasohol, highway and non-highway, and report only highway use of diesel, LPG and alternative fuels, which is published in a monthly report entitled Monthly Motor Fuel Reported by States

Why does FHWA collect only State data? Why not county data?

States provide motor fuel consumption and tax data to the FHWA on gallons of gasoline, gasohol, on-highway diesel, on-highway liquefied petroleum gas, and other alternative fuels that are consumed in the State. FHWA does not require the States to break out motor fuel data by counties because highway based excise taxes are paid by large oil companies and distributors before distribution for final sale. Therefore, tax information on final consumption is not available at the service station level. Furthermore, Federal highway tax revenues are distributed to States for supporting highways, safety, and transit programs, not to a more detailed level such as counties or municipalities. The distribution of funds to the States is done through an attribution process that uses State-reported motor fuel data, and the apportionments of funds to the States for four major highway programs.

Each State's law, and regulations dictate their own collection and reporting procedures.

What is included in the monthly report?

The monthly motor fuel report is actual State reported gallons for gasoline/gasohol for highway and non-highway, and all highway gallons for diesel, LPG, and alternative fuels.

The monthly report includes tables showing the consumption of gasoline/gasohol (Table MF-33G entitled Comparison of Gross Volume of Gasoline); prior year's consumption (Table MF-33GA entitled Monthly Gasoline/Gasohol Reported by States); consumption of highway special fuels, which includes combined highway diesel and highway LPG and alternative fuels (Table MF-33SF entitled Monthly Special Fuels Reported by States); and prior year's consumption of special fuels; State tax rates for gasoline, diesel, liquefied gas, and gasohol (Table MF-121T entitled Tax Rates on Motor Fuel) and pertinent tax information and sales tax information; foreign tax rates for selected countries (table entitled Motor Fuel Tax Rates for Selected Countries); as well as narrative and retail prices for regular, mid-grad, and premium gasoline (Table MF-5 entitled Retail Prices of Motor Fuel). The report is located online at: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/motorfuelhwy_trustfund.cfm

When is the report published?

The report is prepared for publishing when at least 35 or more States have submitted data and is a good representation of the States by region. The report is typically produced about six months after the end of the reporting month. For example, the January report is published April 1.

How many gallons (000) of motor fuel were consumed in 2008?

Gasoline/Gasohol - 136,199,493
Special Fuels - 38,584,144

How many gallons (000) of motor fuel were reported for highway use in 2008?

Gasoline/Gasohol - 132,213,551
Special Fuels - 38,722,271

In order to capture actual gasoline gallons used on the highway, non-highway gasoline gallons were deleted.

How many States show a negative percent change in 2008 consumption of motor fuel in comparison to 2007?

Gasoline/Gasohol: 48 States
Special Fuel: 43 States

What State has the highest highway motor fuel tax rates (by fuel type)?

Gasoline: West Virginia, 32.2
Gasohol: West Virginia, 32.2
Diesel: Pennsylvania, 38.1
LPG: West Virginia, 32.2

The "Tax Rates on Motor Fuel," Table MF-121T is included in our monthly report as well as in our annual publication "Highway Statistics" online.

How does FHWA calculate motor fuel gallons for attribution?

FHWA has in place a process to analyze motor fuel data. The process accounts for highway and non-highway gallons for gasoline/gasohol. Since the States report Highway use of special fuels (diesel, LPG, and alternative fuels), no adjustments are made to these gallons.

On a monthly basis, reported motor fuel gallons are reviewed for accuracy and correctness of motor fuel procedures in accordance with Chapter 2. After the end of a calendar year, and all States data are available, a summary is prepared for the calendar year for each State. The summary is used to enter data into an analytical procedure in the database for inclusion into the motor fuel analysis sheet (MF-20). The State reported data is analyzed and processed, and tables are prepared for the annual Highway Statistics publication.

The following are questions frequently asked that are answered by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), Department of Energy (DOE). For more detailed information visit their website: http://www.eia.doe.gov

Which are the top five oil producing States?

  • Texas
  • Alaska
  • California
  • Louisiana
  • Oklahoma

From what top five countries does the United States import crude oil?

The U.S. is the top user of crude in the world. In 2007, about 58 percent of the petroleum consumed in the U.S. was imported from foreign countries. Although the U.S. is the third largest producer of crude oil, (next to Saudi Arabia and Russia), it must import over 60% of the petroleum used nationwide. Crude oil accounted for 83 percent of net petroleum imports, and about 66 percent of the crude oil processed in the U.S. refineries was imported.

The top five source countries and their percent share of U.S. total net petroleum imports were:

  • Canada (19%)
  • Saudi Arabia (12%)
  • Mexico (11%)
  • Venezuela (9%)
  • Nigeria (8%)

The following questions can be answered as well as other motor fuel related information on the EIA/DOE website http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/ask/faq.asp

  • Why are retail gasoline prices so high?
  • How many gallons of gasoline does one barrel of oil make?
  • What are the products and use of petroleum?

More Information

 
 
Updated: 07/17/2012
 

FHWA
United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration