NewEnergyNews-Butterfield Archive

WALL STREET JOURNAL'S Environmental Capital quotes NewEnergyNews:

  • 06/05/2007
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    WALL STREET JOURNAL selects NewEnergyNews as one of the "Blogs We Are Reading" --

  • 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


      Make Oil Obsolerte by Turning It into Salt

      Anne Butterfield, July 2, 2010

      In response to President Obama's Oval Office address on the Gulf oil spill which pivoted to clean energy legislation, Senator Lindsay Graham stumped for"expanded offshore drilling cause we're gonna need more domestic supply to break our dependency on foreign oil."

      Little problem: the ballyhooed link between domestic drilling and breaking our dependence on foreign oil is a myth.

      Here in Boulder, oil industry veteran Anita Burke describes the delivery of oil as being set by "complex set of politics, back door deals, highest profit and market considerations - it has little to do with where the oil was drilled."

      Once oil is drilled it belongs to the driller not the nation of origin, and from there it's on to a market dominated by players like OPEC. In that market we're a mouse among big cats, and according to Burke our domestic drilling gives us a stake but no assurance in trade outcomes.

      Domestic drilling give us no leverage over world affairs, no oil to call our own, no leverage over price, plus all the risk of drilling here. It does net us domestic jobs, some royalties, profits for oil companies leading to tax revenue (and politicians' campaign coffers), as well as the important softening of our nation's trade imbalance. But it does not bring energy security.

      Miscasting this market truth so brazenly, as Newt Gingrich did in asserting that drilling in Alaska would reduce prices at the pump, politicians' rhetoric is as responsible as BP's care over drilling. The truth to memorize is this:

      “Experience over the past three decades shows that whenever non-OPEC producers increase their production, OPEC decreases supply accordingly, keeping the overall amount of oil in the market the same - if we drill more OPEC drills less.”

      This quote comes from Gal Luft and Anne Korin of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security in their seminal book, Turning Oil into Salt.

      The figure of salt could be a play on Lot's wife being stuck in the past, but the comparison with oil is grimly contemporary. The authors retell the history of salt as a once strategic commodity for having had a monopoly on food preservation. This made salt an "irreplaceable enabler of economic, geopolitical and cultural behavior." Nations were built on access to salt and wars waged for it. Sound familiar?

      Salt's monopoly now is lost to refrigeration, canning and jarring. We still buy and enjoy salt, even for industrial purposes, but we don't build foreign policy around it.

      And that's where we need to get with oil.

      The point of Turning Oil in Salt is not to exit world oil markets (a ruse they deride as autarky) but to develop a dynamic market of many oil alternatives -- both alcohol fuels and electricity -- so that we may import oil for the mix if we want but stay resilient to the shocks that oil markets provide.

      The vision is completely like a diversified stock portfolio which makes investors stable in rough economic times. Sound familiar?

      The answer is to be independent not just of imported oil but oil generally. But how to get there?

      One key tactic to sidestepping OPEC is through electricity; it's too cheap for OPEC to compete with and that pricing also attracts investors toward electric drive systems. To avoid the threat that grid events can bring to an all electric transportation sector, the authors explore and commend a wide range of alcohols for flex fuel plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. They mightily defend ethanol and in particular emphasize methanol which can be made from a wide host of fuel stocks including algae and the natural gas toxically flared at oil drilling rigs.

      The key is for Congress to mandate that cars sold in the US be flex fuel ready the way cars are already sold with seat belts and air bags, by legislating an Open Fuel Standard.
      Also key is to welcome all competitors to critical alcohol and biodiesel markets by establishing blend specifications, as well as dicing the heavy tariff on ethanol imports from friendly countries. Also key is for environmentalists to accept mining for the minerals needed for high performance car batteries.

      Flex fuel plug-in hybrid electric vehicles could reach 500 miles per gallon of gasoline, while allowing consumers to make choices for environmental and national security concerns.

      Price per gallon of oil is the pivotal metric, because oil doesn't just give us price shocks with devastating economic downturns as in 2008, and now threatens lasting damage to the economy in the Gulf of Mexico, it also runs our politics and foreign affairs. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pointed out that the politics of energy has warped diplomacy around the world, reducing otherwise free nations of all sizes into kowtowing to oil producers that harshly restrict human rights, so they can keep access to oil. That humdrum purchase at the corner gas station now has lethal leverage.

      Shunning both the drill-baby-drillers of the right and the conserve-your-way-out enviros of the left, the authors clarify, "Neither efficiency nor drilling will strip oil of its strategic status." And one politician who understands flex fuel plug-in hybrids sponsored a bill for their development when he was Senator from Illinois: Barack Obama. Let's help him get back to this goal by letting Congress know we're not fooled about drilling and energy independence.

      For a great 8-minute intro to the oil-to-salt case, watch Anne Korin on Energy Independence. Here, she take a big stab at politicians who allege that energy independence can be found by way of renewables or nuclear power, as if new forms of electricity cannot be fungible with oil. Well, that's true in a narrow near-term sense but as she makes the case for electrical transportation, she shows that indeed electricity can be significant at pushing back at oil demand. Her sharp criticism would be better aimed at politicians who pander about drilling our way out of oil -- the shibboleth of this new century.