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Articles by Erik Hoffner

Erik Hoffner works for Orion magazine and is also a freelance photographer and writer. Follow him on Twitter: @erikhoffner.

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  • 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:

  • 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% of the program's pollution permits to electricity generators (probably through an auction), with the proceeds invested in energy efficiency and other consumer benefits. This wish seems to have come true, too.

    Good show for an ex-Texaco man! Today's signing was one of Gov Patrick's campaign promises; another is improving the state's flagging economy with growth of the renewable energy sector. Keen to see where this goes ...


  • 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, 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 prepared for that trend will enjoy great success in 2007.

    With the leading producer of hybrid vehicles, Toyota, about to overtake GM as the world's top carmaker, Detroit should take notice and stop making so many awful/unwanted vehicles.

  • 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 […]