NewEnergyNews-Butterfield Archive

WALL STREET JOURNAL'S Environmental Capital quotes NewEnergyNews:

  • 06/05/2007
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  • 05/14/2007
  • 04/16/2007
  • 03/28/2007
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      Anne B. Butterfield of DAILY CAMERA, a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews


    • My Novels: OIL IN THEIR BLOOD, The American Decades & OIL IN THEIR BLOOD, The Story of Our Addiction
    • Review of OIL IN THEIR BLOOD, The American Decades by Mark S. Friedman
    • OIL IN THEIR BLOOD, The American Decades, the second volume of Herman K. Trabish’s retelling of oil’s history in fiction, picks up where the first book in the series, OIL IN THEIR BLOOD, The Story of Our Addiction, left off. The new book is an engrossing, informative and entertaining tale of the Roaring 20s, World War II and the Cold War. You don’t have to know anything about the first historical fiction’s adventures set between the Civil War, when oil became a major commodity, and World War I, when it became a vital commodity, to enjoy this new chronicle of the U.S. emergence as a world superpower and a world oil power.
    • As the new book opens, Lefash, a minor character in the first book, witnesses the role Big Oil played in designing the post-Great War world at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. Unjustly implicated in a murder perpetrated by Big Oil agents, LeFash takes the name Livingstone and flees to the U.S. to clear himself. Livingstone’s quest leads him through Babe Ruth’s New York City and Al Capone’s Chicago into oil boom Oklahoma. Stymied by oil and circumstance, Livingstone marries, has a son and eventually, surprisingly, resolves his grievances with the murderer and with oil.
    • In the new novel’s second episode the oil-and-auto-industry dynasty from the first book re-emerges in the charismatic person of Victoria Wade Bridger, “the woman everybody loved.” Victoria meets Saudi dynasty founder Ibn Saud, spies for the State Department in the Vichy embassy in Washington, D.C., and – for profound and moving personal reasons – accepts a mission into the heart of Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe. Underlying all Victoria’s travels is the struggle between the allies and axis for control of the crucial oil resources that drove World War II.
    • As the Cold War begins, the novel’s third episode recounts the historic 1951 moment when Britain’s MI-6 handed off its operations in Iran to the CIA, marking the end to Britain’s dark manipulations and the beginning of the same work by the CIA. But in Trabish’s telling, the covert overthrow of Mossadeq in favor of the ill-fated Shah becomes a compelling romance and a melodramatic homage to the iconic “Casablanca” of Bogart and Bergman.
    • Monty Livingstone, veteran of an oil field youth, European WWII combat and a star-crossed post-war Berlin affair with a Russian female soldier, comes to 1951 Iran working for a U.S. oil company. He re-encounters his lost Russian love, now a Soviet agent helping prop up Mossadeq and extend Mother Russia’s Iranian oil ambitions. The reunited lovers are caught in a web of political, religious and Cold War forces until oil and power merge to restore the Shah to his future fate. The romance ends satisfyingly, America and the Soviet Union are the only forces left on the world stage and ambiguity is resolved with the answer so many of Trabish’s characters ultimately turn to: Oil.
    • Commenting on a recent National Petroleum Council report calling for government subsidies of the fossil fuels industries, a distinguished scholar said, “It appears that the whole report buys these dubious arguments that the consumer of energy is somehow stupid about energy…” Trabish’s great and important accomplishment is that you cannot read his emotionally engaging and informative tall tales and remain that stupid energy consumer. With our world rushing headlong toward Peak Oil and epic climate change, the OIL IN THEIR BLOOD series is a timely service as well as a consummate literary performance.
    • Oil history journal articles by Dr. Trabish: Oil Stories and Histories
    • Review of OIL IN THEIR BLOOD, The Story of Our Addiction by Mark S. Friedman
    • "...ours is a culture of energy illiterates." (Paul Roberts, THE END OF OIL)
    • OIL IN THEIR BLOOD, a superb new historical fiction by Herman K. Trabish, addresses our energy illiteracy by putting the development of our addiction into a story about real people, giving readers a chance to think about how our addiction happened. Trabish's style is fine, straightforward storytelling and he tells his stories through his characters.
    • The book is the answer an oil family's matriarch gives to an interviewer who asks her to pass judgment on the industry. Like history itself, it is easier to tell stories about the oil industry than to judge it. She and Trabish let readers come to their own conclusions.
    • She begins by telling the story of her parents in post-Civil War western Pennsylvania, when oil became big business. This part of the story is like a John Ford western and its characters are classic American melodramatic heroes, heroines and villains.
    • In Part II, the matriarch tells the tragic story of the second generation and reveals how she came to be part of the tales. We see oil become an international commodity, traded on Wall Street and sought from London to Baku to Mesopotamia to Borneo. A baseball subplot compares the growth of the oil business to the growth of baseball, a fascinating reflection of our current president's personal career.
    • There is an unforgettable image near the center of the story: International oil entrepreneurs talk on a Baku street. This is Trabish at his best, portraying good men doing bad and bad men doing good, all laying plans for wealth and power in the muddy, oily alley of a tiny ancient town in the middle of everywhere. Because Part I was about triumphant American heroes, the tragedy here is entirely unexpected, despite Trabish's repeated allusions to other stories (Casey At The Bat, Hamlet) that do not end well.
    • In the final section, World War I looms. Baseball takes a back seat to early auto racing and oil-fueled modernity explodes. Love struggles with lust. A cavalry troop collides with an army truck. Here, Trabish has more than tragedy in mind. His lonely, confused young protagonist moves through the horrible destruction of the Romanian oilfields only to suffer worse and worse horrors, until--unexpectedly--he finds something, something a reviewer cannot reveal. Finally, the question of oil must be settled, so the oil industry comes back into the story in a way that is beyond good and bad, beyond melodrama and tragedy.
    • Along the way, Trabish gives readers a greater awareness of oil and how we became addicted to it. Awareness, Paul Roberts said in THE END OF OIL, "...may be the first tentative step toward building a more sustainable energy economy. Or it may simply mean that when our energy system does begin to fail, and we begin to lose everything that energy once supplied, we won't be so surprised."
    • Oil history journal articles by Dr. Trabish: Oil Stories and Histories
    • My Photo
      Location: Agua Dulce, CA

      *Doctor with my hands *Author of the "OIL IN THEIR BLOOD" series with my head *Student of New Energy with my heart






      Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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    • NewEnergyNews


      Canary in the Coal Mine

      Canary in the Coal Mine
      December 13, 2008 (NewEnergyNews)
      Anne B. Butterfield

      A canary flies into an edifice of boldface type with various facts about coal, then falls splat to the ground. This is on the website of the Reality campaign which has been televising ads about the nonexistence of “clean coal”. The signature bird has an “x” for an eye to suggest, no doubt, being banged upside the head.

      We get it: our reality is the canary in the coal mine.

      Reality is also taking a beating from politicians representing us here in Colorado.

      Last week, our Senator Ken Salazar and his brother Congressman John Salazar made reassuring remarks about the future of coal to the mining people of Craig up in Moffat County. Through Commissioner Tom Gray, the county offered a public outcry about how, with all the new Democrats in power in Washington, renewable energy was going to knock the stuffing out of coal’s domination in the electric power business – and that they in turn would “suffer”.

      It is hard to see how an industry fueling half the nation’s electricity supply might suffer anytime soon, but if it does, the moral atrocity of mountaintop removal in Appalachia should end first. The people of Craig seem to be jumping to conclusions, with themselves mostly in mind.

      Let’s talk about suffering. Polar bears are already drowning and starving as the sea ice they need to survive disappears. And small islands around the globe are predicted to be swamped soon by seas rising from global warming, triggered by atmospheric carbon levels as low as 400 parts per million. Our current level is 385 ppm; at 2ppm gain each year; that means less than ten years until islands like the Maldives become uninhabitable. When extreme weather renders coastal zones around the world uninhabitable, as happened in New Orleans, twice the population of the United States can face suffering. Consider the suffering when oceans become more acidic by absorbing CO2, with coral reefs and fisheries continuing to die off.

      Let’s hope that the good people of Craig will think of suffering globally as they consider their own.

      Because of the grim link between burning coal and the climate crisis, John Salazar reassured Moffat County by saying he wanted to make sure the federal government fully funds “clean coal” technology, which would inject captured, compressed CO2 miles underground. This is the “clean coal” technical system that is used at no power plant yet in the United States. It’s safe to say it won’t be broadly deployed soon enough to address the warming crisis or be much help to coal miners’ prospects.

      It is ironic that John Salazar spoke bravely for clean coal, because just last month, he wrote to Governor Ritter about the well-founded panic of the people of Huerfano County where extraction of coal bed methane has led to explosions and water contamination. Until ordered to stop last year, the Petroglyph Company was pumping out ground water to get at the methane, which in turn seeped into wells and water lines. The seepage continues. John Salazar needs to reflect that the crisis in Walsenburg (and everywhere that new gas drilling has led to a rash of public health complaints) is what communities might face if injection of compressed CO2 is tried broadly. There are always mishaps when messing with geology, and when CO2 gets loose in concentrations it is toxic and lethal.

      The Salazars’ assurances about coal’s long run viability through “clean coal” are in line with the contributions they have taken from the industry – over $90,000 for Ken the Senator, and $28,000 for John the Representative. While their totals are less than the worst, they are more than many senators’ from bigger coal states. The Udall brothers’ takes are $13,000 for incoming Senator Mark Udall, and $6500 for Representative Tom Udall. Campaign funds from the coal lobby can be tracked at Follow the Coal Money.

      Emily Dickinson said; “Hope is the thing in feathers that perches in the soul.” If reality can be featured as a feathered being that is knocked senseless with an x for its eye, it can also seize on terrific, healing outcomes, flying to new heights. Surely our nation can decide that when it comes to coal it should no longer be simply burned, and burned away -- instead it should be transformed into steel and oh so many wind turbines.

      Break aways:

      When extreme weather renders coastal zones around the world uninhabitable, as happened in New Orleans, twice the population of the United States can face suffering.

      It is hard to see how an industry fueling half the nation’s electricity supply might suffer anytime soon, but if it does, the moral atrocity of mountaintop removal in Appalachia should be first. The people of Craig seem to be jumping ahead fast, and with only themselves in mind.

      Crash test dummies

      Crash test dummies
      Anne B. Butterfield
      November 16, 2008 (Daily Camera)

      On Nov. 4, we the people threw off the chains of our racist past by electing Barack Obama. It's good to kick off an evil master -- but it's imperative to note that in this election we gave up racism more easily than our obedience to big oil and other big shots in the drama of crony capitalism. We've been flailed around like crash test dummies, asked to do what big oil and gas and the big three auto companies tell us.

      Consider a few voter issues:

      Last week Coloradans obeyed the $11 million ad campaign put forth by oil and gas companies to defeat Amendment 58, a measure in which our severance tax on oil and gas would no longer be offset by credits on property taxes. It was assailed by claims that the tax would be passed "straight through" to grocery bills and prices at the pump. It was never true. And in the off-chance that wholesale market would allow the small cost to bleed through to retail, the cost would have been well spent leveraging our soon-to-end fossil fuel economy toward a new clean energy economy. It went down by a 16 percent margin.

      We were warned -- in a Camera opinion by former Boulderite and renowned oil researcher Antonia Juhasz, writing about California's Prop 87. Offered just two years ago, Prop 87 aimed to impose a small fee per barrel of oil drilled within that state and direct the funds to investments in alternative energy. Starting with a strong popular advantage, it lost by a 10 percent margin after a $100 million campaign funded by Big Oil.

      How did our nation's most assertively green state succumb to the snake oil of Prop 87?

      Happily, 24 months later, California saw through a ruse presented by T. Boone Pickens in Proposition 10 that would have made California sell bonds to subsidize the sale of cars and trucks powered by natural gas, a fossil fuel produced by a Pickens company. Pickens has been good at promoting wind energy and even scoffing at more drilling for oil, but Prop 10 nonetheless aimed to shift our automotive sector from dependence on one declining fossil fuel to another. Electrification of transportation continues to be the best move, especially for freight which needs to be reborn on a refurbished rail system.

      Barack Obama has been reminding us that power never gives up without a fight, which we can see in these fights put up by fossil fuel interests. Recently also, the Big Three automakers have wielded their power in a way that begs new terms to describe stupidity. Denying the obvious signs that peak oil is upon us, the Big Three have perversely continued to badger Congress and the White House against higher CAFE standards, even litigating against states' clean car mandates. The money spent could have gone to innovation. General Motor could be profitable now had it not killed its popular electric car program in California in 2003. Instead, it is going belly up because suburbanites no longer want Suburbans.

      We can't blame the United Auto Workers. In a poll in 2002, 80 percent of UAW households blew off industry fumes about higher CAFE standards costing jobs and adding hundreds to the price of cars. Most Michiganders and 84 percent of UAW households favored a new average standard of 40 miles per gallon by 2012. Why did elected officials crony up to big Auto and let Michigan and the whole nation down?

      We the people have awakened to the benefits of a new energy economy, with virtually all Democrats, three-quarters of independents and 58 percent of Republicans indicating in a new Zogby poll that clean energy is important to lifting the nation's economy. Yet we are waiting for our leaders to do the right thing with the automakers' crisis and the climate crisis; we are even waiting for ourselves to get the courage to tax Big Oil so we can fund our future. It's time to tell these industries, "You're not the boss of me."