Missouri per-capita gasoline consumption highest (?) in the nation

Take a look at this recently released map of per-capita gasoline consumption in counties across the U.S.

What jumps out at you?  Maybe something BIG and RED and right in the middle of the map?

Now, this can't possibly be right.  Every single rural Missouri county certainly doesn't have massively higher per-capita gas consumption than the immediately adjoining county in another state--for almost every single county around the state's border.  So there must be something wrong in the data--maybe Missouri reports it in a different way, or maybe it's something as simple a glitch in their database.

Nevertheless, this is a map that is really crying out for some answers.  Are Missourians really using more gallons of gas per capita than the national average, than than adjoining states?

If so, what is the reason? Our low gas taxes? Our low gas prices? Lots of through drivers? Something else about our economy, or culture, our transportation network?  Or just wrong data (the NRDC, which compiled the data, thinks that might be part of the problem).

Total gasoline consumption

How about another way to look at it?

Missouri's gasoline consumption stands out noticeably from adjoining states in this map as well--which shows total consumption of gasoline by county, not adjusted per-capita:


On that map, Missouri looks most similar to Illinois--which has over twice the population of Missouri.  

We've built out the entire state of Missouri as a great place to drive, and made our communities convenient for driving and not so convenient for every other type of transportation choice.

That worked for much of the 20th Century, but as gas prices continue to go up, up, and up the disadvantages for Missouri's economy and competitiveness on the world market are becoming more obvious.