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Transportation Fuels


biogasPetroleum products are used for transportation fuels, electricity production, and heating fuels. The primary use of petroleum for energy generation is in the transportation sector with 92 percent of the transportation energy in the United States provided by petroleum products (gasoline and diesel fuel). In 2013, Idaho consumed 30.8 million barrels of petroleum products. About 1 percent of the electricity generated in the United States uses petroleum as the fuel source, mainly in Hawaii where petroleum is the primary fuel source for electricity generation. In this application, petroleum is combusted in a boiler to produce steam that turns a steam turbine connected to a generator. Petroleum, primarily as distillate fuel oil and liquefied petroleum gas, is used for space heating, largely in the northeastern United States. It is also used for industrial process heat. In these applications, petroleum fuels are combusted in boilers to produce hot water or steam, burned directly to heat the air or used as material being processed.

Petroleum, the large majority of which is used for transportation fuels, constitutes 30 percent of end-use energy consumption in Idaho. Although liquid fuels (ethanol and biodiesel) are produced in Idaho for transportation use, 100 percent of petroleum utilized in Idaho comes from out of the state.

Average gasoline prices in Idaho were the 46th highest among U.S. states in October of 2015. However, each state has a different state fuel tax and gasoline price rankings can change rapidly and significantly. In 2015, the Idaho legislature approved an increase in the state’s gasoline tax rate, from 25 cents per gallon to 32 cents per gallon. Idaho’s state gasoline taxes are 11 cents higher than the recent national average of 21 cents. Additionally, the cost of shipping transportation fuels into Idaho, which has no refineries, are included in gasoline prices.

From 1903 to 1988, approximately 145 wells were drilled throughout the state, exploring for hydrocarbons.  In 2010, Bridge Resources (later renamed Idaho Natural Resources Corporation) drilled 11 wells in Payette County, which were later purchased by Natural Resources Corporation and Alta Mesa Idaho.  Starting in 2013, Alta Mesa Idaho started conducting exploration and drilling for new wells.  As of 2016, there are 19 active drill permits, with 8 wells in production.

For more information on Oil and Gas development in Idaho, please visit the Idaho Department of Lands website at

Ethanol is a renewable fuel made from corn and other plant materials, known as “biomass”. Almost all of the gasoline in the U.S. contains some ethanol. Ethanol is available as E85—a high-level ethanol blend containing 51%-83% ethanol depending on season and geography—for use in flexible fuel vehicles. E15 is defined by the Environmental Protection Agency as a blend of 10%-15% ethanol with gasoline. It is an approved ethanol blend for model year vehicles 2001 and newer.

Idaho currently has one plant, Pacific Ethanol in Burley, that is producing ethanol.  Pacific Ethanol produces over 60 million gallons of ethanol a year, derived from a corn-based feedstock.

For more information on ethanol, please visit the following pages:

Biodiesel fuel is an alternative diesel made from renewable resources such as vegetable oils (soy, corn, canola, mustard, etc), animal fats (tallow, lard, etc), and recycled cooking greases (grease, cooking oil, etc). Biodiesel can be used in pure form or blended with petroleum diesel at any level. The B number indicates the percentage of biofuel. For instance B20 is a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel. The University of Idaho pioneered and continues to be a worldwide leader in biodiesel research.

For more information on biodiesel, please visit the following pages: