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Our Nation's Highways: 2011

5. Motor Fuel

While our nation and industry are devoting significant resources to develop alternative fuels and technologies to power our motor vehicles, gasoline, diesel, ethanol, natural gas, and other petroleum-related products are currently the primary source of fuels enabling our mobility.

Figure 5-1: Highway Fuel Usage Trend: 1970–2009

Figure 5-1: Highway Fuel Usage Trend: 1970–2009
Data Source: FHWA OHPI, Highway Statistics

A total of 172 billion gallons of fuel were consumed by vehicles in 2009. Of this total 137 billion gallons (80 percent) are gasoline and the remaining 35 billion gallons (20 percent) are special fuels such as diesel.

From 2008 to 2009 gasoline consumed by vehicles increased 0.3 billion gallons (0.2 percent), while special fuels consumption decreased 3.3 billion gallons (9 percent). Overall, vehicle fuel consumption decreased 1.7 percent from 2008 to 2009.

Since 1970 total highway fuel consumption has increased 86 percent from 92 million gallons, an annual growth rate of 1.6 percent. Special fuels consumption is five times greater than in 1970, an annual growth rate of 4.3 percent.

Figure 5-2: Highway Fuel Usage Change from Previous Year: 2006/2007; 2007/2008; 2008/2009

Figure 5-2: Highway Fuel Usage Change from 
  Previous Year: 2006/2007; 2007/2008; 2008/2009
Data Source: FHWA OHPI, Highway Statistics

Figure 5-3: Fuel Consumption by State and Type: 2009

Figure 5-3: Fuel Consumption by State and Type: 2009
Data Source: FHWA OHPI, Highway Statistics

Total vehicle fuel consumption by state in 2009 varies from a low of 0.1 billion gallons in the District of Columbia and 0.4 billion gallons in Vermont to a high of 18 billion gallons in California. Total gasoline consumption ranges from a low of 0.1 billion gallons in the District of Columbia and 0.3 billion gallons in Alaska to a high of 15 billion gallons in California, while total diesel consumption ranges from a low of 0.02 billion gallons in the District of Columbia and 0.05 billion gallons in Hawaii to a high of 3.8 billion gallons in Texas.

The five largest states by total fuel consumption – California, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas – consume 56 billion gallons of fuel, which is 33 percent of total vehicle fuel consumption nationwide. The five states consuming the most diesel fuel – California, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas – consume 11 billion gallons of diesel fuel, which is 30 percent of diesel vehicle fuel consumption nationwide.

The ratio of diesel consumption to gasoline consumption by state ranges from 1:1.1 in Alaska, where similar quantities of diesel fuel and gasoline are consumed, to 1:9 in Hawaii, which consumes one gallon of diesel fuel for every 9 gallons of gasoline.

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