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Appendix E - Data Source and Accuracy Statements

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Chapter 4 - Energy and the Environment


TABLE 4-1. Overview of U.S. Petroleum Production, Imports, Exports, and Consumption

The petroleum supply system is extremely complicated, with many different processes, products, and entities involved. Briefly, crude oil is produced or imported, transported to refineries where it is refined into various products, and then transported to markets. Imports and exports of crude oil and products must be accounted for, as must be nonpetroleum components of final products, such as natural gas plant liquids and ethanol for gasoline blending.

The U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration (EIA) collects extensive data at select points in the petroleum supply system. Sixteen surveys are conducted by EIA's Petroleum Supply Reporting System to track the supply and disposition of crude oil, petroleum products, and natural gas plant liquids:

five weekly surveys cover refineries (form EIA-800), bulk terminal stocks (form EIA-801), product pipelines (form EIA-802), crude stocks (form EIA-803), and imports (form EIA-804).
eight monthly surveys cover the same five points plus tanker and barge movement (form EIA-817), gas processing facilities (form EIA-816), and oxygenates (form EIA-819M).
one survey (form EIA-807) collects propane data on a monthly basis in the warmer months (April-September) and on a weekly basis in the colder months.
one annual survey determines production capacity of oxygenates and fuel ethanol (form EIA-819A), and
one annual survey determines refinery fuel use, capacity, and crude oil receipts by transportation mode (form EIA-820).

The five weekly surveys target key points in the petroleum supply system. They do not include all companies, but sample 90 percent of volume at each selected point in the supply system. EIA rank-orders the companies involved in the survey and sends surveys as it scrolls down the list, stopping when it reaches the 90 percent level. Although 100 percent coverage is sacrificed, this method keeps the level of incoming data manageable and avoids burdening the smallest companies. All data are reviewed and anomalies checked.

Monthly surveys provide data that are used in the monthly and annual reports. They are similar to the weekly surveys, but are more exhaustive in both the range of data collected and the depth of the collection. Sample sizes and response rates for several of the key points in the supply system are shown in table 1.The eight monthly surveys cover the industry more accurately than the weekly surveys and provide some double-check points that the other surveys do not. EIA expends considerable effort to ensure that its data are as accurate as possible. Revisions are made throughout the year. For example, EIA's Annual Energy Review 2011, released in Sept. 2012, provided a preliminary 2011 number for total petroleum production of 5.09 million barrels per day (mmbd), and the 2014 Review reported 5.08 mmbd.

No complicated survey is likely to be 100 percent accurate. EIA lists four sources of potential systematic errors:

1. Some members of the target population are missed. EIA reports that it continually reviews the lists and searches industry periodicals and newspapers to identify new actors. Considering the nature of the petroleum industry, it is very unlikely that companies with significant production are not surveyed.
2. Some members of the target population do not respond. EIA reports a 97 percent response rate for monthly surveys. For some points in the supply system, the average response is over 99 percent. Survey respondents are required by law to respond, but some nonresponse is inevitable, especially among small companies. EIA assumes that the nonrespondent's value for that month is the same as for the previous month except for imports. Since imports vary widely, with respondents frequently having no imports, EIA assumes a nonresponse means zero imports. It can be assumed that EIA is good at "filling in the blanks." Assuming for illustration purposes that 0.5 percent of production does not respond, and that EIA is 90 percent accurate in covering the gap, then there is a possibility of a 0.05 percent error. Applying that to total production of 5.08 mmbd in 2011 suggests that there could be an error of 0.0025 mmbd (2,500 barrels per day), which would not affect the published number.
3. The most serious problem may be response error. A company may have poor data, perhaps as a result of imperfect measurements, or it may transmit the wrong number. EIA has no control over a company's data quality. Companies have incentive to measure their inputs and products accurately. Otherwise, they may be cheating themselves or risking ill will with their customers or suppliers. However, no instrumentation is perfectly accurate. The high throughput of, say, a refinery with capacity of several hundred thousand barrels per day, with a variety of products changing density and some lost or used on site, is very complicated to measure. Instrumentation errors are likely to be systematic at any one site, although they will be more nearly random in the aggregate for all facilities. There is potential for small but significant overall errors.
Mistakes may be made in recording and transferring the data. EIA reviews the data and flags gross errors or missing data for review by the respondent. However, not all errors will be picked up by EIA and/or the respondent. Overall, response errors probably are several times as large as nonresponse errors, but it is beyond the scope of this profile to estimate them.
4. The final potential source of systematic error is in the clarity of the survey form, i.e., whether all respondents interpret it correctly. No doubt errors and ambiguities can creep into a form, but at least for petroleum supply, that does not appear to be a major risk. The supply system is not changing rapidly, and EIA should be able to keep with it and the terminology. However the final digit of EIA's published supply data is questionable.

For additional information on survey methodology and statistical reliability, the reader is referred to the EIA reference cited in the tables or the EIA Internet site at


TABLE 4-1. Overview of U.S. Petroleum Production, Imports, Exports, and Consumption

TABLE 4-2. U.S. Consumption of Energy from Primary Sources by Sector

TABLE 4-3. Domestic Demand for Refined Petroleum Products by Sector

TABLE 4-4. U.S. Energy Consumption by the Transportation Sector

TABLE 4-7. Domestic Demand for Gasoline

Petroleum consumption is far more complex to measure than supply. Instead of a few hundred companies at most measuring points in the supply system, there are tens of millions of consumers. It would be impossible for any survey of individual consumers to produce the high rate of return of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Energy Information Administration's (EIA's) supply surveys. EIA's transportation data collection is further limited by the termination of the Residential Transportation Energy Consumption Survey (RTECS). Therefore, EIA uses surveys of sales of products (e.g., Form EIA-821:Annual Fuel Oil and Kerosene Sales Report) or tax collection data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

EIA reviewed the accuracy of its energy consumption data in a 1990 monograph Energy Consumption by End-Use Sector, a Comparison of Measures by Consumption and Supply Surveys. Unfortunately, this monograph does not discuss the transportation sector because the consumption and supply surveys were not comparable. However, some of the results from other sectors indicate the discrepancies between supply and consumption surveys. Table 4-2 shows the ratio of fuel supplied to the sector to consumption reported by the sector in consumption surveys.

In most cases, supply is reported as substantially larger than consumption. Supplies of fuel oil to the commercial sector are reported at almost twice the level of consumption reported by that sector. Some of the discrepancies may be due to definition differences (e.g., fuel oil for apartment buildings is included in commercial supply surveys but not in consumption surveys.) Overall, however, the differences are too large for great confidence in the accuracy of the data.

If transportation had been reviewed in the same format, it is likely that the discrepancies would have been larger. Most transportation fuel (gasoline for automobiles) is purchased in small quantities at irregular intervals and cannot be checked simply by looking at a utility bill. Hence, highway transportation energy consumption surveys must be extensive to avoid the risk of large uncertainties in the data. But, with the termination of the RTECS, EIA ceased conducting such surveys. Consumption data must be derived indirectly from sales of petroleum products and tax collection data. While petroleum supply may be accurate to one decimal place, it is likely that disaggregating by sector use may be within plus or minus several percentage points, or perhaps about half a quadrillion British thermal unit (Btu) in table 4-1.

Motor Gasoline

Almost all gasoline is consumed in the transportation sector. Small amounts are used in the commercial sector for nonhighway use and the industrial sector, which includes agriculture, construction, and other uses. Subtracting estimates of those uses from the known total sales yields the transportation sector's total, which is further subdivided into highway and marine use. Aviation gasoline is, of course, used entirely in the transportation sector (for a very few high-performance automobiles as well as small aircraft).

Data on actual sales is collected by the states for revenue purposes. These data are forwarded to FHWA. EIA uses the data from FHWA to allocate highway consumption of motor gasoline among the states. For 2011, FHWA reported 131.3 billion gallons of gasoline sold nationally for highway use. EIA's table 3.7c of the Annual Energy Review 2012 lists 8.59 mmbd of gasoline supplied for the transportation sector, the same as 131.7 billion gallons.

Such close agreement between supply and demand is not totally convincing. Definitions are unique to each state (e.g., whether gasohol is counted as pure gasoline or part gasoline and part renewables), measurement points vary from state to state, and each state handles losses differently. Hence, the total of all states' sales of gasoline is not entirely consistent.

Separation of highway from nonhighway uses of gasoline is, by necessity, based in part on careful estimates. Nevertheless, overall gasoline sales are well documented, and the separation is probably fairly accurate. Refinery output of motor gasoline was 7.93 mmbd in 2011, which is probably accurate to the first decimal place and maybe a little better. The transportation sector's 8.59 mmbd would have about the same accuracy.

Diesel Fuel

Diesel fuel is used in highway vehicles, railroads, boats, and military vehicles. Sales are only about 30 percent of gasoline in the transportation sector, but uncertainties are greater. More diesel than gasoline is used for nonhighway purposes, especially agriculture and construction. In addition, there has been more potential for cheating to avoid the tax; heating oil is virtually the same as diesel fuel and can easily be transferred to a vehicle. However, this is less significant now that tracers have been added to fuel oil. After the addition of tracers, the amount of transportation diesel fuel use jumped.

To estimate diesel fuel sales by mode, EIA starts with the total supply of distillate fuel and subtracts the small amount sold to electric utilities (the most accurately known sector, as measured by EIA Form EIA-759). The remainder is divided among the other end-use sectors according to EIA's sales surveys (Form EIA-821: Annual Fuel Oil and Kerosene Sales Report, and Form EIA-863: Petroleum Product Sales Identification Survey).

This method introduces several potential elements of inaccuracy. First, the surveys of each sector are probably less accurate than the supply surveys noted earlier. Companies and individuals may inadvertently send incorrect data, or not respond at all. Then EIA has to determine what adjustment factor to use for each end-use sector. Since each sector will have a different response rate to the surveys, the adjustments will be different. Large adjustments can introduce large errors. EIA has not published its adjustments for the transportation sector. As shown in table 2, the adjustments in other sectors range from 5 to 96 percent of reported consumption. Even a 20 percent adjustment could introduce an error of one or two percentage points (plus or minus) for any one sector.

Overall, the accuracy of diesel fuel use in the transportation sector should be viewed with some skepticism.

Jet Fuel

Jet fuel is the only other petroleum-based fuel that is used in large quantities (over 1 million barrels/day) in the transportation sector. Virtually all of it is used by airlines. These data are accurate because airlines are required to report usage, and because there are relatively few certificated air carriers, data collection should be manageable.  


TABLE 4-10. Estimated Consumption of Alternative and Replacement Fuels for Highway Vehicles

Collectively, oxygenates, natural gas, electricity, and various alternative fuels amount to only about 3 percent of all energy used in the transportation sector. While this may not be much greater than the error bars associated with petroleum use, it is important to track changes in these fuels accurately.


Oxygenates, mostly methyl tributyl ether (MTBE), which is derived from natural gas and ethanol, are part of mainstream gasoline supply. They are measured routinely with petroleum supply (forms EIA-819A and 819M). Consumption is estimated from production, net imports, and stock changes. Refineries and other entities are required to report data on oxygenates, and EIA also monitors production capability to provide a crosscheck. Thus, oxygenates data are likely to be reasonably accurate.

Natural Gas

Natural gas is used in the transportation sector mainly as the fuel for compressor stations on natural gas transmission lines. A small but growing amount is used in compressed or liquefied form in vehicles. EIA collects data on natural gas much as it does for petroleum, but the system is much simpler. Natural gas transmission companies may not know exactly how much gas is used in compressor stations, but they have a good idea based on the size of the equipment and the load on the line. The reported numbers probably are reasonably accurate. Data on natural gas-fueled vehicles are collected by DOE via Form-886, which is sent to fuel suppliers, vehicle manufacturers, and consumers. In addition, private associations and newsletters are important sources of information on alternative vehicles and alternative fuels use. Since most groups work cooperatively with DOE, it is likely that the data reported are accurate. EIA tracks the number of natural gas vehicles and the number of refueling stations to provide a cross check on estimates of natural gas consumption.


Electricity powers intercity trains (Amtrak) and intracity rail systems. In addition, the number of electric vehicles is growing. There is considerable uncertainty over the energy consumed by these modes. Amtrak no longer provides national totals of its electricity consumption. Data on intracity transit is based on U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration's (FTA's) National Transit Database (NTD). The legislative requirement for the NTD is found in Title 49 U.S.C. 5335(a). Transit agencies receiving funds through the Urbanized Area Formula Program are generally required to report financial and operating data, including energy use. Although the data is generally considered accurate because FTA reviews and validates information submitted, reliability may vary because some transit agencies cannot obtain accurate information or may misinterpret certain data.

If electric vehicles become important over the next decade or two, dedicated charging stations may become commonplace, which could provide accurate data. Fleet owners (e.g., electric utilities) can keep accurate records, but individuals who plug their vehicles in at home may not. Electricity use must be estimated from the number of such vehicles and the expected driving cycles. Hence, data on electric power for transportation must be viewed as an estimate.

It should also be noted that electricity is a form of work that usually is generated from heat with the loss of about two-thirds of the energy. Automobile engines are equivalent to electric generators in that they convert chemical energy to heat and then to work, losing most of the energy as waste heat. When electrical energy is compared to petroleum in transportation, the waste heat must be included for consistency. A kilowatt-hour of electricity is equivalent to 3,413 British thermal units (Btu), but about 10,000 Btu of heat are required to produce it. This factor is dropping as generators become more efficient. High efficiency gas turbines may require 8,000 Btu or less, but the average is much higher. It is usually impossible to tell where the power for a specific use is generated, so average figures for a region are used to estimate the waste energy, a factor that further reduces the accuracy of the data.

Alternative Fuels

In addition to oxygenates, natural gas, and electricity, alternative fuels include ethanol and methanol. EIA tracks the numbers of such vehicles through Form-886, state energy offices, federal demonstration programs, manufacturers, and private associations. These numbers probably are fairly accurate although it is difficult to monitor retirements. Fuel consumption is estimated from the types of vehicles in operation, vehicle miles traveled, and expected fuel efficiency. Adjustments are necessary for the relatively few flexible-fuel vehicles. Obviously, the reported data are estimates only.


TABLE 4-5. Fuel Consumption by Mode of Transportation

TABLE 4-6. Energy Consumption by Mode of Transportation

TABLE 4-8. Certificated Air Carrier Fuel Consumption and Travel

TABLE 4-9. Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption and Travel

TABLE 4-11. Light Duty Vehicle, Short Wheel Base and Motorcycle Fuel Consumption and Travel

TABLE 4-12. Other 2-Axle 4-Tire Vehicle Fuel Consumption and Travel

TABLE 4-13. Single-Unit 2-Axle 6-Tire or More Truck Fuel Consumption and Travel

TABLE 4-14. Combination Truck Fuel Consumption and Travel

TABLE 4-15. Bus Fuel Consumption and Travel

Fuel consumption data are collected quite differently than supply data collected by the U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration (EIA). Highway fuel consumption, for example, is based on U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) data collected from states in the course of revenue collection. EIA starts from the fuel delivered to transportation entities.


Highway fuel data (tables 4-5, 4-9, and 4-11 through 4-15) are collected mainly by FHWA. All states plus the District of Columbia report total fuel sold along with travel by highway category and vehicle registration. Data typically flows from state revenue offices to the state departments of transportation to FHWA. Even if reporting is reasonably accurate, some data are always anomalous or missing and must be modified to fit expected patterns. In addition, as discussed earlier, there are some significant differences in methodology and definitions among the states. In particular, states differ in where the tax is applied in the fuel supply system, how gasohol is counted, how nonhighway use is treated, and how losses are handled.

Nonhighway use of gasoline and diesel fuel is a particularly large source of potential error. Some states designate nonhighway users as tax-exempt, others make the tax refundable. In either case, many people won't bother to apply if the amount of money is small. Nonhighway use of diesel fuel is especially large because many construction and agricultural vehicles are diesel powered. Thus, the fraction of petroleum attributed to transportation could be overestimated. On the other hand, some nonhighway fuel finds its way into the transportation system because heating oil can be used as diesel fuel, evading the tax. Tracers are now added to heating oil, which appears to have reduced the level of such tax evasion-if found in a truck's fuel tank, the tracer indicates diversion from a nontaxed source.

Breaking fuel use down by class of motor vehicle introduces the potential for error. FHWA must estimate the miles each class is driven and the fuel economy. Estimation of miles is based on the 1995 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey (NPTS), administered by FHWA, and the Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey (formerly known as the Truck Inventory and Use Survey) conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. For information about these two surveys, the reader is referred to the technical appendix of Our Nation's Travel, available from the FHWA, Office of Highway Information Management; and the 1997 Census of Transportation, available from the Economics and Statistics Administration within the Census Bureau. Fuel economy is based on state-supplied data, TIUS, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data on new car fuel economy, which must be reduced by about 15 percent to reflect actual experience on the road. Overall, both vehicle-miles of travel and fuel economy are estimates.

Fuel consumption by buses is particularly uncertain. FHWA collects data on intercity buses, and the American Public Transit Association (APTA) covers local travel. Very little data are collected on school buses. APTA figures are based on data from the USDOT, Federal Transit Administration's (FTA's) National Transit Database, which covers about 90 to 95 percent of total passenger-miles. These data are generally accurate because FTA reviews and validates information submitted by individual transit agencies. Reliability may vary because some transit agencies cannot obtain accurate information or may misinterpret data. APTA conservatively adjusts the FTA data to include transit operators that do not report to FTA, such as private and very small operators and rural operators. Prior to 1984, APTA did not include most rural and demand responsive systems.


The U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Office of Airline Information (OAI) is the source of these data. The numbers are based on 100-percent reporting of fuel use by large certificated air carriers (those with revenues of more than $100 million annually) via Form 41.The data are probably reasonably accurate because the airlines report fuel use regularly, and the limited number of airlines aids data management.

Smaller airlines, such as medium size regional and commuter air carriers, are not required to report energy data. OAI estimates that about 8 percent would have to be added to the total of the larger airlines to account for this use, but that has not been done in table 4-5 or 4-8.

General aviation aircraft and air taxis are covered in the General Aviation and Air Taxi and Avionics Survey, conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The survey is conducted annually and encompasses a stratified, systematic design from a random start to generate a sample of all general aviation aircraft in the United States. It is based on the FAA registry as the sampling frame. For instance, in 2012, a sample of 209,034 aircraft was identified and surveyed from an approximate population of 277,010 registered general aviation aircraft.

The reliability of the GAATA survey can be impacted by two factors: sampling and nonsampling error. A measure, called the standard error, is used to indicate the magnitude of sampling error. Standard errors can be converted for comparability by dividing the standard error by the estimate (derived from the sample survey results) and multiplying it by 100. This quantity, referred to as the percent standard error, totaled two and four-tenths of a percent in 2000 for the general aviation fleet. A large standard error relative to an estimate indicates lack of precision, and inversely, a small standard error indicates precision.

Nonsampling errors could include nonresponse, a respondent's inability or unwillingness to provide correct information, differences in interpretation of questions, and data entry mistakes. The reliability of general aviation fleet data comparisons over time would decrease because of changes implemented in 1978 and sampling errors discussed above. Readers should note that nonresponse bias may be a component of reliability errors in the data from 1980 to 1990. The FAA conducted telephone surveys of nonrespondents in 1977, 1978, and 1979 and found no significant differences or inconsistencies between respondent and nonrespondent replies. The FAA discontinued the telephone survey of nonrespondents in 1980 to save costs. Nonresponse surveys were resumed in 1990; and the FAA found notable differences and make adjustments to its data to reflect nonresponse bias.

The U.S. Government, in particular the Department of Defense (DOD), uses a large amount of jet fuel as shown in table4-19 (see discussion on government consumption below). However, DOD reports all fuel purchased, including from foreign sources for operations abroad. While the data may be accurate, it is not comparable to EIA's overall U.S. supply and consumption figures on jet fuel.

International operations are included in table 4-8 but not table 4-5. The fuel use for international operations includes that purchased by U.S. airlines for return trips. OAI does not collect data on foreign airline purchases of fuel in the United States. Thus, a significant use of U.S. jet fuel is missed. However, these two factors approximately balance each other out. As shown in table 1-34,foreign carrier traffic is just slightly less than U.S. carrier international traffic, so presumably the fuel purchased here by foreign carriers is very close to the fuel purchased abroad by U.S. carriers.


The data are from Railroad Facts, published annually by the Association of American Railroads (AAR). AAR figures are based on 100 percent reporting by Class I railroads to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) via Schedule 700 of the R1 Annual Report. Thus, the data are considered accurate. STB defines Class I railroads as having operating revenues at or above a threshold indexed to a base of $250 million (2010) and adjusted annually in concert with changes in the Railroad Freight Rate Index published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2011, the adjusted threshold for Class I railroads was $433.2 million. Although Class I railroads represent only 1 percent of the number of railroads in the country, they account for over 70 percent of the industry's mileage operated and more than 90 percent of all freight revenue; energy consumption should be of the same order. For passenger travel, information is unavailable. Amtrak no longer provides data on a national basis, and the regional data appears to be inconsistent.  


The APTA figures are based on information in FTA's National Transit Database. APTA conservatively adjusts FTA data to include transit operators that do not report to the FTA Database (private and very small operators and rural operators), which accounts for about 90 to 95 percent of the total passenger-miles. The data are generally accurate because the FTA reviews and validates information submitted by individual transit agencies. Reliability may vary because some transit agencies cannot obtain accurate information or misinterpret certain data definitions in federal guidelines.


The EIA collects data on residual and distillate fuel oils and diesel through its Annual Fuel Oil and Kerosene Sales Report survey, form EIA-821.The survey targets companies that sell fuel oil and kerosene to end users. This survey commenced in 1984 and data from previous years should be used with caution.

Sampling Frame and Design

The sample's target universe includes all companies that sell fuel oil and kerosene to end users. EIA derives the sampling frame from the EIA-863 database containing identity information for approximately 22,300 fuel oil and kerosene sellers. EIA stratifies the sampling frame into two categories: companies selected with certainty and uncertainty. Those in the certainty category varied but included the end use "vessel bunkering," or sales for the fueling of commercial and private watercraft.

Sampling Error, Imputation, and Estimates

EIA reported a 91.4 percent response rate for the 2012 survey. The EIA also provides estimates of the sampling error for geographic areas and U.S. averages are 1.8 for residential distillate fuel oil, 0.8 for nonresidential retail distillate fuel oil, and 0.1 for retail residual fuel oil. Some firms inevitably ignore survey requests, causing data gaps. EIA estimates the volumes of these firm's sales by imputation; more detailed information and the algorithm can be obtained at EIA's web site in the technical notes for the Annual Fuel Oil and Kerosene Sales Report. See

TABLE 4-19. U.S. Government Energy Consumption by Agency and Source

Energy consumption data are collected by DOE's Office of Federal Energy Management Programs in cooperation with most departments and agencies. DOD is by far the largest consumer, accounting for about 80 percent of the total. As discussed above, the data includes fuel purchased abroad for military bases. Since government agencies are required to report these data, they are probably accurate. However, it is possible that some consumption is missed. For example, some agencies may report only fuel supplied directly, missing consumption such as gasoline purchased by employees while on government business for which they are then reimbursed. In addition, smaller agencies were neglected. Overall, however, the data should provide a fairly good approximation of government energy consumption.


TABLE 4-20. Energy Intensity of Passenger Modes

TABLE 4-21. Energy Intensity of Certificated Air Carriers, All Services

TABLE 4-22. Energy Intensity of Passenger Cars, Other 2-Axle 4-Tire Vehicles, and Motorcycles

TABLE 4-24. Energy Intensity of Transit Motor Buses

TABLE 4-25. Energy Intensity of Class I Railroad Freight Service

TABLE 4-26. Energy Intensity of Amtrak Service

TABLE 4-27. Energy Intensity of Amtrak Service (Loss-adjusted conversion factors)

Total energy consumed for each mode can be estimated with reasonable accuracy. Miles traveled are known for some modes, such as air carriers, but less accurately for others, most notably automobiles. When the numbers of passengers or tons are required to calculate energy efficiency, another uncertainty is introduced. Again, air carriers and intercity buses know how many passengers are on board and how far they travel, but only estimates are available for automobiles and intracity buses.

Thus, table 4-21 should be quite accurate for certificated air carriers, though it is missing small airlines and private aircraft. Table 4-22 is based on FHWA fuel tax data, derived from state fuel tax revenues. VMT is as discussed for tables 1-9 and 1-10.Data for motorcycles must be adjusted significantly more than for automobiles because less information is collected from the states or from surveys. Transit bus data (table 4-24) are very uncertain because, unlike intercity buses, the distance each passenger travels is not measured by ticket sales.

The intermodal comparison of passenger travel in table 4-20 must be viewed with considerable caution. Data for the different modes are collected in different ways, and the preparation of the final results is based on different assumptions. As noted above, airlines accurately record passenger miles, but the data on occupancy of private automobiles must be estimated from surveys. Even relatively certain data, such as state sales of gasoline, must be modified to resolve anomalies, and transit data are even harder to make consistent. Furthermore, different groups collect the data for the various modes, and they have different needs, assumptions, and methodologies. Thus, the comparisons are only approximate.

Freight service data (table 4-25) are from Railroad Facts, published annually by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).AAR figures are based on 100 percent reporting by Class I railroads to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) via Schedule 700 of the R1 Annual Report. STB defines Class I railroads as having operating revenues at or above a threshold indexed to a base of $250 million (2010) and adjusted annually in concert with changes in the Railroad Freight Rate Index published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2012, the adjusted threshold for Class I railroads was $ 433.2 million. Although Class I railroads comprise only 1 percent of the number of railroads in the country, they account for over 71 percent of the industry's mileage and 91 percent of all freight revenue; energy data should be of the same order.

TABLE 4-28. Annual Wasted Fuel Due to Congestion

TABLE 4-29. Wasted Fuel per Eligible Driver

The Texas Transportation Institute's (TTI) Urban Roadway Congestion Annual Report provided figures for tables 4-27 and 4-28. TTI relies on data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Highway Performance Monitoring System database (HPMS). (See box 1-1 for detailed information about the HPMS.) TTI utilizes these data as inputs for its congestion estimation model. Detailed documentation for the TTI model and estimations can be found at

The sum of fuel wasted in typical congestion (recurring delay) and incident related delays equal the annual wasted fuel for an urban area. Recurring delay is the product of recurring delay (annual hours in moderate, heavy, and severe delays) and average peak period system speed divided by average fuel economy. Incident delay hours are multiplied by the average peak period system speed and divided by the average fuel economy to produce the amount of incident fuel wasted.

Structure, Assumptions, and Parameters

Urban roadway congestion levels are estimated using a formula measuring traffic density. Average daily travel volume per lane on freeways and principal arterial streets are estimated using area wide estimates of vehicle-miles of travel and lane miles of roadway. The resulting ratios are combined using the amount of travel on each portion of the system (freeway and principal arterials) so that the combined index measures conditions overall. This variable weighting factor allows comparisons between areas such as Phoenix-where principal arterial streets carry 50 percent of the amount of travel of freeways-and cities such as Phoenix where the ratio is reversed. Values greater than one are indicative of undesirable congestion levels. Readers seeking the algorithm for the congestion index should examine

In previous reports, TTI assumed that 49 percent of all traffic, regardless of the urban location, occurred in congested conditions. TTI indicated that this presumption overestimated travel in congested periods. Its 2011 estimates now vary by urban area anywhere from 18 to 60 percent of travel that occurs in congestion. TTI's model structure applies to two types of roads: the mix of high-speed freeways and slower streets. The model derives estimates of vehicle traffic per lane and traffic speed for an entire urban area. Based on variation in these amounts, travel is then classified under 5 categories: uncongested, moderately congested, heavily congested, severely congested, and extremely congested (a new category in 1999). The threshold between uncongested and congested was changed in 1999. Previous editions classified congested travel when area wide traffic levels reached 14,000 vehicles per lane per day on highways and 5,500 vehicles per lane per day on principal arterial streets. For the current edition these values are 15,500 and 5,500 vehicles per lane per day respectively. Previous years values have been re-estimated based on these new assumptions. Readers should refer to the TTI website for more detailed information on its estimation procedures

TTI reviews and adjusts the data used in its model, including statewide average fuel cost estimates (published by the American Automobile Association) and the number of eligible drivers for each urban area (taken from the Statistical Abstract of the United States, published by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census).The model has some limitations because it does not include local variations (such as bottlenecks, local travel patterns, or transportation improvements) that affect travel times. TTI documentation does not provide information on peer-review, sensitivity analysis, or estimation errors for their model. Information about sensitivity analysis or external reviews of the model could not be obtained and users should interpret the data cautiously.


TABLE 4-43. Estimated National Average Vehicle Emissions Rates by Vehicle Type and Fuel

TABLE 4-44. National Average Vehicle Emissions Rates by Vehicle Type Using Reformulated Gasoline

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency uses its Mobile Source Emissions Factor Model (MOBILE) to generate average emissions factors for each vehicle and fuel type. The methods used in the model are theoretically sound, the assumptions are reasonable, but the data vary in quality, and no formal analysis of the accuracy of these estimates has been performed. Emissions rate estimates for light-duty vehicles are considered more reliable than those for heavy-duty vehicles because in-use emissions tests are performed on a sample of vehicles each year. Deterioration for heavy-duty vehicles in the national fleet are based only on manufacturer's engine deterioration tests. In addition, because reformulated fuels (table 4-39) are newer than other gasoline fuels (table 4-38), in use emissions test data for reformulated fuels are not as extensive.

The estimates in the tables represent average emissions rates taking into account the characteristics of the nation's fleet, including vehicle type and age, and fuel used. The model also assumes Federal Test Procedure conditions. The model does not take into account actual travel distributions across different highway types with their associated average speeds and operating mode fractions, nor do they consider ambient local temperatures. However, fleet composition and deterioration because of age are considered. Thus, these rates illustrate only trends due to vehicle emissions control improvements and their increasing use in the national fleet and should not be used for other purposes.

TABLES 4-45, 4-46, 4-47, 4-48, 4-49, 4-50. Estimates of National Emissions of Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Oxides, Volatile Organic Compounds, Particular Matter, Sulfur Dioxide

Emissions by sector and source are estimated using various models and calculation techniques and are based on a number of assumptions and on data that vary in precision and reliability. The methods used are theoretically sound, the assumptions are reasonable, but the data vary in quality, and no formal analysis of the accuracy of these estimates has been performed.

Carbon Monoxide (CO), Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Highway vehicle emissions of CO, NOx, and VOC are generated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Mobile Source Emissions Factor Model (MOBILE), which uses per-mile vehicle emissions factors and vehicle travel (vehicle-miles) to calculate county-level emissions. Emissions rates are then adjusted based on fuel characteristics, vehicle fleet composition, emissions control measures, average vehicle speed, and other factors that can affect emissions. (Emissions rates used in MOBILE are based on vehicle certification tests, emissions standards, and in-use vehicle tests and are updated approximately every three years.) The U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration's Highway Performance Monitoring System is the source of vehicle travel estimates used in the model. Although the methodology for this survey data is sound and well documented, analyses have shown that individual states vary in how rigorously they follow the established sampling guidelines.

The non-highway vehicle emissions are calculated annually by running EPA's NONROAD model for all categories except aircraft, commercial marine vessels, and railroads, which are calculated via emission factors and relevant activity data. Inputs to the NONROAD model include average temperatures, Reid vapor pressure, fuel usage programs and controls.

Particulate Matter Under 10 Microns (PM-10) and 2.5 Microns (PM-2.5) in Size

Highway vehicle emissions are estimated using the U.S. Environments Protection Agency's PART model, which estimates emissions factors for exhaust emissions and brake and tire wear by vehicle type. Exhaust emissions factors are based on certification tests, while brake wear (per vehicle) and tire wear (per tire) are assumed values, which are constant over all years. Per-mile emissions factors are multiplied by vehicle travel (vehicle-miles) and adjusted to account for other factors that effect exhaust emissions (e.g., fuel composition, weather, etc.). The U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration's Highway Performance Monitoring System is the source of vehicle-miles of travel (VMT) estimates used in the model. While the methodology for this survey data is sound and well documented, analyses have shown that individual states vary in how rigorously they follow the established sampling guidelines.

Fugitive dust estimates for paved and unpaved roads are calculated by multiplying VMT on each type of road by emissions factors for each vehicle type and road type.

The non-highway vehicle emissions are calculated annually by running EPA's NONROAD model for all categories except aircraft, commercial marine vessels, and railroads, which are calculated via emission factors and relevant activity data. Inputs to the NONROAD model include average temperatures, Reid vapor pressure, fuel usage programs and controls.

Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)

Highway vehicle SO2 emissions are estimated by multiplying vehicle travel (for each vehicle type and highway type) by an emissions factor reflecting each vehicle type and highway type. Highway SO2 emissions factors are based on vehicle type and model year, sulfur content of fuel by type and year, fuel density by fuel type, and vehicle fuel efficiency by type and model year.

In general, estimates for non-highway vehicles are calculated based on fuel consumption and sulfur content of fuel, though other factors may be considered.


In general, lead emissions are estimated by multiplying an activity level by an emissions factor that represents the rate at which lead is emitted for the given source category. This estimate is then adjusted by a factor that represents the assumed effectiveness of control technologies. For lead released during combustion, a top-down approach is used to share national estimates of fuel consumption by fuel type to each consumption category (e.g., motor fuel, electric utility, etc.) and, subsequently, each source (e.g., passenger cars, light-duty trucks, etc.).

TABLE 4-51. Air Pollution Trends in Selected Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs)

TABLE 4-52. Areas in Nonattainment of National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Criteria Pollutants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency measures concentrations of pollutants in the ambient air at its air quality monitoring sites, which are operated by state and local agencies. These sites conform to uniform criteria for monitor siting, instrumentation, and quality assurance, and each site is weighted equally in calculating the composite average trend statistics. Furthermore, trend sites must have complete data for 8 of the 10 years in the trend time period to be included. However, monitoring devices are placed in areas most likely to observe significant concentrations of air pollutants rather than a random sampling of sites throughout the nation.  

TABLE 4-53. U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Energy Use by Sector

The combustion of fossil fuels, such as coal, petroleum, and natural gas, is the principal anthropogenic (human caused) source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Since fossil fuels are typically 75 percent to 90 percent carbon by weight, emissions from the combustion of these fuels can be easily measured in carbon units, as is shown in the table.

CO2 emissions data are derived from estimates. The U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration (EIA), estimates CO2emissions by multiplying energy consumption for each fuel type by its carbon emissions coefficient, then subtracting carbon that is sequestered by nonfuel use of fossil fuels. Carbon emissions coefficients are values used for scaling emissions to specific activities (e.g., pounds of CO2emitted per barrel of oil consumed).

Emissions estimates are based on energy consumption data collected and published by EIA Several small adjustments are made to its energy consumption data to eliminate double counting or miscounting of emissions. For example, EIA subtracts the carbon in ethanol from transportation gasoline consumption because of its biological origin.

Emissions coefficients are based on the density, carbon content, and heat content of petroleum products. For many fuels, except liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), jet fuel, and crude oil, EIA assumed coefficients to be constant over time. For LPG, jet fuel, and crude oil, EIA annualized carbon emissions coefficients to reflect changes in chemical composition or product mix.

Since the combustion of fossil fuels is a major producer of CO2emissions, sources of uncertainty are related to: 1) volumes of fuel consumed; 2) characteristics of fuel consumed; 3) emissions coefficients; and 4) coverage. EIA notes that volumetric fuel data are fairly reliable in the 3 percent to 5 percent range of uncertainty. The density and energy content of fuels are usually estimated. According to EIA, the reliability of these estimates vary. For example, estimates of the energy content of natural gas are reliable to 0.5 percent, while estimates for coal and petroleum products are lower because they are more heterogeneous fuels. The reliability of emissions coefficients depends on whether the characteristics of a fuel are difficult to measure accurately. Finally, uncertainties may result because data may be excluded or unknown sources of emissions not included.

EIA's estimation methods, emissions coefficients, and the reliability of emissions estimates are discussed in detail in U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States, 1998 available on:

TABLE 4-54. Petroleum Oil Spills Impacting U.S. Waterways

The U. S. Coast Guard's (USCG) Marine Safety Information System (MSIS) is the source of these data. It includes data on all oil spills impacting U.S. navigable waters and the Coastal Zone. The USCG learns of spills through direct observation, reports from responsible parties and third parties. Responsible parties are required by law to report spills to the National Response Center (NRC).Reports may be made to the USCG or Environmental Protection Agency pre-designated On Scene Coordinator for the geographic area where the discharge occurs if direct reporting to the NRC is not practicable. There is no standard format for these reports, but responsible personnel face significant penalties for failing to do so. Most reports are made by telephone, and USCG personnel complete investigations based on the information provided. The type and extent of an investigation conducted varies depending on the type and quantity of the material spilled. Each investigation will determine as closely as possible source of the pollutant, the quantity of the material spilled, the cause of the accident, as well as whether there is evidence that any failure of material (either physical or design) was involved or contributed to the incident. These are so financial responsibility may be properly assigned for the incidents, as well as proper recommendations for the prevention of the recurrence of similar incidents may be made.

Some spills may not be entered into MSIS because they are either not reported to or discovered by the USCG. The probability of a spill not being reported is inversely proportional to its size. Large spills impact a large area and a large number of people, resulting in numerous reports of such spills. Small spills are less likely to be reported, particularly if they occur at night or in remote areas where persons other than the responsible party are unlikely to detect them. Responsible parties are required by law to report spills and face penalties for failing to do so, providing a strong incentive to report spills that might be detected by others. Experience with harbor patrols shows that the number of spills increases as the frequency of patrols increases. However, the volume of material spilled does not increase significantly, indicating that the spills discovered through increased harbor patrols generally involved very small quantities.

Data Collection

From 1973 to 1985, data were collected on forms completed by the investigator and later entered into the Pollution Incident Reporting System (PIRS) by data entry clerks at USCG headquarters. Since 1985, data have been entered directly into MSIS by the investigator. From 1985 to 1991, data were entered into a specific electronic form that captured information on the spilled substance and pollution response actions. Since 1995, a growing number of reports of pollution incidents of 100 gallons or less of oil have been captured on a Notice of Violation ticket form, which are then entered into MSIS.

The information shown in this table comes from the USCG Spill Compendium, which contains spill data from the applications described above. The Compendium contains summary data from 1969 through 2011 and is intended to provide general information to the public, the maritime industry and other interested persons about spills in and around U.S. waterways. For more information about spill data, please refer to the USCG Internet site at

Nonsampling Errors

According to the USCG, nonsampling errors, such as nonreporting and mistakes made in data collection and entry, should not have a major impact on most interpretations of the data, but the impact will vary depending on the data used. The error rate for volume spilled is estimated to be less than 5 percent because larger spills, which account for most of the volume of oil spilled, are thoroughly reviewed at several levels. The error rate for the number of spills is difficult to estimate primarily due to low reporting rates for small spills. Most of the error in spill counts involves spills of less than 100 gallons.

TABLE 4-55. Leaking Underground Storage Tank Releases and Cleanups

A national inventory of reported spills and corrective actions taken for leaking underground storage tanks is compiled biannually based on state counts of leaking tanks reported by owners as required by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976.1 These data may be affected by general accounting errors, some of which have changed semiannual counts by as many as 2,000 actions.

TABLE 4-56. Highway Noise Barrier Construction

State highway agencies (SHAs) provide data on highway noise barrier construction, extent, and costs to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration. Individual SHA definitions of barriers and costs may differ. This could lead to nonuniformity and/or anomalies among state data, which will in turn affect national totals.

TABLE 4-57. Number of People Residing in High-Noise Areas Around U.S. Airports

The number of the people exposed to aircraft noise around airports is estimated by computer modeling rather than by actual measurements. The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA's) Integrated Noise Model (INM) has been the primary tool for assessing aircraft noise around airports for nearly 30 years. This model uses information on aircraft mix, average daily operations, flight tracks, and runway distribution to generate and plot contours of Day Night Sound Level (DNL).With the addition of a digitized population census database, the model can estimate the number of residents exposed to noise levels of 65 decibels (db) DNL.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) produced the first estimate of airport noise exposure in 1975.It reported that 7 million residents were exposed to significant levels of aircraft noise in 1978.This number became the "anchor point" for all future estimates of the nationwide noise impacts. In 1980, FAA developed another methodology for estimating the change in the number of people impacted by noise (from the 1975 anchor value) as a function of changes in both the national fleet and in the FAA's Terminal Area Forecast (TAF). In 1990, the FAA created an improved method of estimating the change in number of people impacted (relative to the 1980 estimates).

In 1993, the FAA began using its newly developed Nationwide Airport Noise Impact Model (NANIM) to estimate the impact of airplane noise on residential communities surrounding U.S. airports that support jet operations. FAA uses this model to determine the relative changes in number of people and land area exposed to 65 db DNL as a result of changes in nationwide aircraft fleet mix and operations. NANIM uses data on air traffic patterns found in the Official Airline Guide (OAG), air traffic growth projections found in FAA's TAF, population figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, and information on noise contour areas for the top 250 U.S. civil airports with jet operations.

The methodology used in NANIM has been peer reviewed and approved. However, a formal evaluation of the model's accuracy has not been conducted. Some data used in NANIM are updated manually, thus the possibility of data entry errors does exist. Entries are reviewed and then corrected as appropriate. The aircraft mix and operations files from FAA's TAF and OAG are updated automatically. Changes to either of the sources could introduce errors. For example, it was recently discovered that OAG redefined some aircraft codes and altered some data fields in its database. These changes make it impossible for the NANIM utility program to accurately read the current OAG database. A rewrite of the source code is necessary to eliminate this error. Also, since airport authorities are not required to produce noise exposure maps and reports unless they intend to apply for Federal grants, 14 of the 50 busiest commercial airports, including JFK and LaGuardia, have not produced (for public consumption) noise exposure maps in several years. In the absence of actual data, the NANIM database contains approximations of the noise contours areas based on airports of similar size and similar operation. Without actual airport data, it is impossible to quantify the error introduced by the approximation.

Noise Exposure people data for 2000 and forward was re-estimated using an enhanced version of U.S. MAGENTA (Model for Assessing the Global Exposure of Noise because of Transport Airplanes). The enhanced version of the model uses radar-based traffic data to account for unscheduled operations including freight, General Aviation and military operations. The enhanced U.S. MAGENTA also includes improvements to the acoustical model to account for differences in the sound attenuation characteristics between wing-mounted and tail-mounted aircraft engines. These enhancements result in computed population noise Exposure estimates that are more accurate and larger than previous versions of the model. Therefore, it is important to note that the "growth" in the number of people exposed from 1999 to 2000 resulted from improvements in measurement, not deterioration in aviation noise trends. In 2013, Federal Aviation Administration has revised the reporting of noise exposure from calendar year to fiscal year going back to 2000 to align with other agency performance metrics.

TABLE 4-58. Motor Vehicles Scrapped

The Polk Company's Vehicles in Operation database is the source of these data. This database is a census of vehicles that are currently registered in all states within the United States. It is based on information from state department of motor vehicles. Polk updates the database quarterly (March, June, September, and December).

Scrapped vehicles are those that Polk removes from its database when: 1) States indicate registered vehicles have suffered major damage (such as a flood or accident), or 2) No renewal (reregistration) notice is received by Polk within a state's allotted time (normally one year). In the latter case, if a vehicle is subsequently reregistered, it is returned to the database. The Polk data on motor vehicles is broken down into passenger cars and trucks, and this identification comes with the registration data from the DMV.


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U.S. EPA, Office of Mobile Sources.1994. Users Guide to MOBILE5 (Mobile Source Emission Factor Model),EPA-AA-TEB-94-01.Ann Arbor, MI.May.

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1 Public Law 94-580, 90 Stat. 2795 (October 21, 1976).