A new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) explores the role of alternative fuels and energy efficient vehicles in motor fuel taxes. Throughout the United States, it is common practice for federal, state, and local governments to tax motor fuels on a per gallon basis to fund construction and maintenance of our transportation infrastructure. In recent years, however, expenses have outpaced revenues creating substantial funding shortfalls that have required supplemental funding sources. While rising infrastructure costs and the decreasing purchasing power of the gas tax are significant factors contributing to the shortfall, the increased use of alternative fuels and more stringent fuel economy standards are also exacerbating revenue shortfalls. The current dynamic places vehicle efficiency and petroleum use reduction polices at direct odds with policies promoting robust transportation infrastructure. Understanding the energy, transportation, and environmental tradeoffs of motor fuel tax policies can be complicated, but recent experiences at the state level are helping policymakers align their energy and environmental priorities with highway funding requirements.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages2
StatePublished - 2015

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/FS-5400-65027


  • alternative fuels
  • Clean Cities
  • energy efficient vehicles
  • excise taxes
  • motor fuel taxes


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