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Erik Hoffner's Posts

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Get social

US Social Forum in Atlanta, late June

So the 7th annual World Social Forum just wrapped up in Kenya, and the news is that the U.S. will finally get around to having its own version of this event in late June. It's a huge opportunity for the whole spectrum of grassroots movements for progress in the U.S. (social justice, environment, immigration, indigenous rights, etc.) to come together and make common cause. Here's the website. Though past social forums have been criticized for their lack of concrete results, we shouldn't ignore this opportunity to strategize about creating a coherent movement for progress that's not splintered into so many …

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Train wreck

Passenger rail on the East Coast is a mess

Western Massachusetts has just one passenger train that runs (once a day) up and down the north/south length of the Connecticut River Valley, connecting some of the bigger towns with Vermont and Connecticut. As if one train a day isn't bad enough, the new cover feature of the local weekly exposes just how inadequate it is: Assuming the train is on time, which it often isn't, it takes two hours and nine minutes to get from Brattleboro, Vt. to Springfield, Mass. That's an average speed of 27 miles per hour. Driving from Brattleboro to Springfield usually takes under an hour. …

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Back and proud

Massachusetts rejoins the NE climate pact

Whether Mass. is the most liberal state in the union is open for discussion. But I can tell you that ex-Governor Mitt Romney really pissed a lot of us folks off two years ago when he pulled the state out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the first multi-state program to reduce carbon emissions. But as of today our new guv has us back on track -- it feels good to be moving in the right direction again! Ace grassroots group Mass. Climate Action Network has been pushing for Governor Patrick to also signal his support for selling 100% …

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New year, new cars, old thinking

American automakers stuck with unsold gas-guzzlers

In 2006, droves (pun intended?) of Americans bought new fuel-efficient vehicles, while sales of large trucks and SUVs declined, leaving U.S. carmakers with hundreds of thousands of trucks and SUVs rusting on their lots. Chrysler alone had not sold 500,000 of its 2006 vehicles as of September! What an insanely colossal waste of resources that represents. Jesse Toprak, Executive Director of Industry Analysis for the respected auto review site Edmunds.com, had this to say recently about the situation: Gas prices will be a leading factor in how consumers choose what vehicles they purchase in the coming year. Automakers who are …

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How a grassroots biodiesel group can show the way for others

The way that Rob Del Bueno backed into the world of biofuel almost by accident, as told in the article "Small Potatoes," is emblematic of the way most folks get engaged in grassroots biofuel development. It starts with a desire to use a renewable fuel to power your life long before a GMO-happy megacorporation was going to start reliably supplying you with it, and then it turns into an obsession that alters your whole outlook. Erik Hoffner. At about the same time that Rob was getting started, friends of mine were interested in creating a biodiesel-buying co-op together. Discovering how …

Read more: Cities, Climate & Energy

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Food vs. fuel news

Native perennials shown to produce more fuel than industrial monocrops

This is a welcome study: "University of Minnesota research shows mixed grasses produce 238% more bioenergy than single plant species, including switchgrass." Growing perennial native plants on average or poor soils, which wouldn't require annual plowing, fertilization, or herbicides, could change the whole debate on whether humans should be growing crops for fuel.

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