The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) collects information on greenhouse gas emission to monitor their potential impact on the environment. It monitors carbon dioxide emissions (CO2)—the primary greenhouse gas emitted by various activities throughout the world—released by power source and sector. In SONAR the focus is on fossil fuel consumption of non-renewable resources as these are the main sources of CO2 emissions, representing 77.6% of the U.S. primary energy production in 2017.
Power sources include the fossil fuels:
- Natural gas
- Petroleum products
Renewable energy, including solar, wind, and geothermal energy, accounted for 12.6% of the primary energy production in 2017, with nuclear comprising 9.6%.
- Electric Power
Electric power is the primary source of energy consumption representing 38.1% of the total share in 2017. Transportation was second at 28.8%, industrial 22.4%, residential 6.2%, and commercial 4.5%.
CO2 emissions in SONAR are expressed in millions of metric tons per state. The transportation of these fossil fuels has a major impact on transportation. For instance, with coal primarily being moved on the rail. As coal production declines, railcar volumes fall with it and rails will need to replace that volume with other commodities or freight.
The petroleum sector drives a large part of the freight economy. As petroleum production increases so does demand for capacity. Petroleum and its derivatives, such as plastics, are hauled across the country on trucks. When petroleum production declines, as it did in 2016, so does demand for trucking capacity.
Regardless of individual stances on environmental issues, regulations and behavior patterns are constantly changing. Having the ability to monitor the primary factor in these areas, CO2 emissions, gives transparency to SONAR users.