People in geographically large states with small populations, such as Alaska, North Dakota or Wyoming, used twice as much energy for transportation than the U.S. average, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Meanwhile, people in states with higher population density, such as Rhode Island or New York, used less transportation energy.
The EIA recently released the State Energy Data System and estimated annual energy consumption by state, source and sector using EIA surveys and third-party data sources. The EIA converts the data to common energy units for comparison among energy sources and sectors. In 2018, energy consumption for transportation in the United States was an average of 87 million British thermal units per person.
Transportation sector consumption includes all energy used by vehicles, trains, aircraft and ships. Vehicles used for construction, farming and in warehouses are included in the commercial or industrial sectors.
Alaska has the smallest population density of any state and had the highest level of per capita transportation energy consumption in every year since 1969. In 2018, more jet fuel per capita was consumed in Alaska than in any other state, at 135 million British thermal units, or about 1,002 gallons. This was almost 13 times the U.S. average of 80 gallons. Alaska, which is nearly 500 miles north of the contiguous United States, is a major fueling stop for military aircraft and commercial, passenger and cargo flights between the United States and Asia.
Transportation sector per capita consumption of distillate fuel oil in Wyoming was 102 million British thermal units, or about 742 gallons, in 2018. Wyoming has the smallest population and the highest vehicle miles traveled per capita of any state. Wyoming and North Dakota also had the highest consumption of motor gasoline per capita, each averaging 66 million British thermal units or about 552 gallons, in 2018. North Dakota is a large natural gas-producing state and had the highest consumption of natural gas per capita in the transportation sector, which includes natural gas used for pipeline transportation, at 29 million British thermal units, or about 27,000 cubic feet, in 2018.
New York had the lowest per capita transportation energy consumption of any state at 58 million British thermal units. Only Washington, D.C., was lower at 29 million British thermal units. The low consumption level in New York could be attributed to its low motor gasoline consumption per capita. In 2018, 34 million British thermal units (284 gallons) and 20 million British thermal units (164 gallons) of motor gasoline were consumed per person in New York and Washington, D.C., respectively, compared to the U.S. average of 51 million British thermal units (422 gallons).
The transportation sector in Texas has consumed the most energy of any state since 2013 on an absolute basis. In 2018, 3.5 quadrillion British thermal units were consumed in the state’s transportation sector or about 12% of the U.S. total. California consumed 3.2 quadrillion British thermal units or about 11% of the U.S. total. Arkansas consumed 289 trillion British thermal units in 2018.