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Luke Tonachel, Vehicles Analyst, New York City

Luke Tonachel

When I was 9 years old, my parents loaded me and my siblings into the family station wagon headed west from Massachusetts. We spent the whole summer visiting the beautiful parks around the country and visiting far-flung extended family. I remember hiking the Grand Canyon and crossing the Mohave Desert sitting on black vinyl seats without air conditioning. Ouch.

After college, I kept traveling. As an engineering officer on a Navy cruiser, I got hands-on experience with large propulsion plants and energy systems. On bridge watches, I was awed by vastness, power and tranquil beauty of the ocean. After the navy, I joined a software company for a while but grew restless for a focus on environmental stewardship and I returned to school to study environmental policy-making.

Since joining NRDC in 2004, I’ve been focused on the environmental impact of our mobility. I am working on ways to promote cleaner and more efficient car and truck technologies so that as we and future generations travel to visit the earth’s beautiful places in the future, they are still there to see. 

Recent Posts

Look beyond the Headlines: New Study Actually Supports EVs as Cleaner than Gasoline

Posted December 18, 2014 by Luke Tonachel in Moving Beyond Oil, Curbing Pollution, Solving Global Warming

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Reading beyond the headlines, a new study by researchers at the University of Minnesota actually supports what most studies have shown: electric vehicles (EVs) can substantially reduce carbon and smog forming pollution. So why the confusion? The media headlines, unfortunately,...continued

2014--A Year of Clean Cars for All

Posted December 15, 2014 by Luke Tonachel in Curbing Pollution, Moving Beyond Oil, Solving Global Warming

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Part of NRDC’s Year-End Series Reviewing 2014 Clean Energy Developments   When it comes to automobiles, 2014 has been a year of good news for consumers, public health and the environment. Thanks to tightening standards, cars are more fuel efficient...continued

Fuel Economy Continues Upward Climb to New Record

Posted October 8, 2014 by Luke Tonachel in Moving Beyond Oil, Solving Global Warming

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has crunched the numbers and the fleet of cars and light trucks sold with model year 2013 hit a new record of 24.1 miles per gallon (mpg). The latest Fuel Economy Trends report finds that...continued

40% Fuel Savings Available in Big Trucks

Posted June 11, 2014 by Luke Tonachel in Moving Beyond Oil, Solving Global Warming

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Our transportation system contributes to global warming because it is almost entirely powered by burning gasoline and diesel in vehicle engines. Second only to cars in terms of fuel consumption and carbon pollution in the transportation sector are heavy trucks,...continued

State Action Plan Helps Power Up Electric Vehicle Market

Posted May 29, 2014 by Luke Tonachel in Moving Beyond Oil, Solving Global Warming

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The release of an action plan by state governments that hope to boost the visibility and use of electric vehicles is yet another sign the nation is moving deliberately toward getting gas-burners off the highways and cleaning up air pollution...continued

Heavy Trucks Can Be Cheaper and Cleaner

Posted May 5, 2014 by Luke Tonachel in Moving Beyond Oil, Solving Global Warming

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The trucks that haul freight on our highways, deliver packages to our door and pickup our garbage can be much more efficient, saving fuel and money and reducing carbon pollution. By 2025, the average new truck could consume 40 percent...continued

EPA Adopts Stronger Standards on Gasoline and Cars to Reduce Smog and Soot

Posted February 28, 2014 by Luke Tonachel in Curbing Pollution

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Over 130 million Americans live in counties with unhealthy levels of air pollution, according to the American Lung Association. In those areas, automobiles are responsible for as much as 45 percent of the emissions that dirty the air with smog...continued

New Truck Efficiency Standards Make Sense

Posted January 29, 2014 by Luke Tonachel in Moving Beyond Oil, Solving Global Warming

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The transportation sector accounts for roughly one-third of national carbon dioxide emissions, and is the second largest emitter behind power plants. On-road vehicles account for 80 percent of transportation emissions, and after cars, trucks are the second biggest polluters. That’s...continued

Fuel Economy Hits Record High: EPA Report

Posted December 12, 2013 by Luke Tonachel in Moving Beyond Oil, Solving Global Warming

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The official numbers are in. In its new Fuel Economy Trends report the U.S. EPA finds that new automobiles sold in model year 2012 averaged a record-high 23.6 miles per gallon (sticker value) and that model year 2013 is expected...continued

Eight States Team Up to Win the Electric Vehicle Race

Posted October 24, 2013 by Luke Tonachel in Curbing Pollution, Living Sustainably, Moving Beyond Oil, Solving Global Warming

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In yet another sign that the electric car market is charging forward, eight governors of California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont announced a new agreement to cooperate on implementing key policies to make electric cars...continued

Selling Your Car? Add a Fuel Economy Label.

Posted September 12, 2013 by Luke Tonachel in Living Sustainably, Moving Beyond Oil, Solving Global Warming

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Starting today, sellers can print and affix fuel economy labels to the window of used cars. For years, consumer interest in fuel economy has been growing and the label can help used car buyers cut through the clutter of offers and...continued

Get the Sulfur Out: Cleaner Gasoline Saves Lives

Posted September 3, 2013 by Luke Tonachel in Curbing Pollution, Health and the Environment

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Air pollution shortens lives. According to recent study by researchers at MIT there were about 200,000 premature deaths in 2005 linked to combustion emissions leading to ozone and particulate matter pollution. The biggest single contributor to those deaths is...continued

EPA Hearing: Citizens Urge Agency to Finalize Cleaner Gasoline and Tailpipe Standards

Posted April 25, 2013 by Luke Tonachel in Curbing Pollution, Health and the Environment

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A broad group of citizens and other stakeholders are calling on the U.S. EPA to act now to reduce smog pollution caused by cars and light trucks. In Philadelphia on April 24th, EPA heard resounding support as it began...continued

EPA Proposes Stronger Standards on Gasoline and Cars to Reduce Smog

Posted March 29, 2013 by Luke Tonachel in Curbing Pollution, Moving Beyond Oil

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In a step forward that will help Americans breathe easier, the U.S. EPA today proposed long-awaited standards to clean up gasoline and cut smog-forming pollution from cars and light trucks. Now the EPA should complete the process of making the...continued

Fuel Economy Continues to Rise: EPA Report

Posted March 15, 2013 by Luke Tonachel in Living Sustainably, Moving Beyond Oil, Solving Global Warming

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New cars and trucks are poised to set new records in fuel efficiency according to the latest Fuel Economy Trends report from the EPA. When all the data is crunched, EPA expects the model year 2012 average to reach 23.8...continued

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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