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Luke Tonachel, Senior Analyst and Director, Clean Vehicles and Fuels Project, 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

The Year in Clean Vehicles - Saving Money and Cleaning the Air

Posted December 22, 2015 by Luke Tonachel

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Part of NRDC's Year-End Series Reviewing 2015 Energy Developments In signing the Paris Agreement, nations across the world are taking a much-needed step toward cutting carbon pollution from fossil fuel use and fortunately, the United States has a strong start--particularly...continued

New EPA Data Shows Clean Car Standards Are Working

Posted December 15, 2015 by Luke Tonachel

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Despite low oil prices, the latest data from EPA shows that strong carbon pollution and fuel economy standards adopted by the Obama Administration continue to work to lower fuel bills, reduce oil dependency, and cut carbon pollution. In fact, EPA...continued

Study: Electric Vehicles Can Dramatically Reduce Carbon Pollution from Transportation, and Improve Air Quality

Posted September 17, 2015 by Luke Tonachel

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Producing the electricity to power electric vehicles can generate emissions. But those emissions levels are far lower than the pollution emitted by conventional vehicles, and could be even lower as the electric power sector cleans up over next few decades,...continued

New Heavy Truck Fuel Efficiency Can Help Deliver a Clean Energy Future

Posted June 18, 2015 by Luke Tonachel

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The Obama administration today proposed new fuel efficiency standards to be phased in for heavy trucks, the energy hogs ranging from tractor-trailers to heavy-duty pickups on our nation's highways, but the implementation timeline can and should be accelerated to boost...continued

Cars Are Getting Cleaner and Driving Job Growth

Posted March 26, 2015 by Luke Tonachel

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Investments in clean energy technologies for cars are creating jobs. Most recently, Alcoa - with the assistance of a loan from the Department of Energy - is expanding a Tennessee aluminum manufacturing facility and adding 200 jobs to meet automakers'...continued

Op-Ed Makes a Wrong Turn on Electric Vehicles

Posted February 20, 2015 by Luke Tonachel

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A recent USA Today op-ed by climate skeptic Bjorn Lomborg attempts to recharge his false claims that electric vehicles are bad for the planet. Lomborg's numbers don't tell the real story, but unfortunately the paper's editors didn't catch the deficiencies....continued

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

Posted December 18, 2014 by Luke Tonachel

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

About

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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