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


      Boulder's PACE brought to a halt

      July 22, 2010

      Just as the economy is poised to slump into the second dip in the W, along comes a federal housing agency to give our economy a little butt-kick into the abyss by thwarting an attractive funding mechanism for home energy retrofits and the jobs that come with them. The decision deprives twenty-two states that have passed laws in support of property assessed clean energy financing (PACE).

      It's a little personal here in Boulder because our county was the first in the nation to fully implement PACE in our program called the Climate Smart Loan Program. And our community has seen $13 million in the past two years, just for the residential program, flow through the economy with this financial instrument that helps a community burn less money by burning less fossil fuels.

      However the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (which own or guarantee most of our nation's home mortgages) has determined that PACE programs "present significant safety and soundness concerns."

      When Fannie and Freddie issued ambiguous warnings about PACE weeks ago, Country Commissioner Will Toor said the mortgage moguls would resolve this in support of PACE "because their position makes so little sense."

      The housing giants' objection has been stubbornly focused on the senior status of the lien, meaning in the event of a home default the local land tax authority gets paid prior to the mortgage lender. In reality, in a default, only the delinquent amount of tax would be senior, being say, a thousand dollars, rather than the whole retrofit assessment of, say, $15,000. The remaining debt stays with the property.

      "The FHFA memo is the classic solution looking for a problem" says Alice Madden of Governor Ritter's office. "One of the reasons PACE bonds get such high ratings is that the debt stay with the property; these are not personal loans and lenders are simply not at risk."

      At the behest of the Department of Energy and its intent to leverage PACE upgrades with stimulus funding, PACE programs have developed best practices such as aiming for energy savings to exceed the amount of assessment, a retrofit cap which can be no more than 10 per cent of property value, only delinquent amounts of the assessment get paid in foreclosure, and positive equity requirement amongst borrowers.

      These standards sure beat subprime mortgages that Fannie and Freddie gladly gobbled up on houses that spill energy in every direction. But the FHFA alleges, without analysis, that PACE financing presents only downsides. Though the agency was lobbied with generous explanation (available through showing that new standards nearly assure cash benefits for borrower and lender, the FHFA has determined as if only downside risks are noteworthy.

      Most likely, PACE projects would bolster lenders' profit margins by easing borrowers' monthly expenses and risk of default. And it's not just the lender, borrower, retrofitter and solar manufacturer shall benefit from PACE. Over in wobbly Wall Street, sellers of municipal bonds also want in to this highly attractive bond market made safe by the senior lien status. Barclay's Capital has asserted that "there would be little to no meaningful bond buyer interest" in PACE liens without the senior status.

      Lenders have routinely tolerated senior liens for property-assessed additions such as sidewalks, sewers and schools. But reducing a community's exposure to coal and natural gas prices? FHFA has deemed this to "not have the traditional community benefits associated with taxing initiatives".

      They better be careful. These lenders got at least $160 billion in bailout for their excellence in "safety and soundness" during the sub prime disaster that laid our nation low. And now as unelected bureaucrats they try to tell us, their taxpayer benefactors, what is what in community benefits?

      Toor minces no words: "It's an outrageous assault on state and local authorities."

      This federal versus local drama makes a taxpayer get a very long memory. Going back to 2003 let's recall that FHFA's cohort, the Office of Comptroller of the Currency, preempted all 50 states' laws against predatory lending and sued to stop local investigations of abusive practices, according to Eliot Spitzer.

      Do these banking giants works for the American people? Or do they suffer the cloistered groupthink that infected BP and Mineral Management Services?

      Two states already are suing the lenders for obstructing states' ability to finance efficiency and clean energy.

      This is a big political story. Prior to their determination FHFA received a barrage of appeals in favor of PACE from governors, senators, congressmen and advocates. From Colorado, Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, Representatives Jared Polis, Betsey Markey and John Salazar as well as Governor Ritter all wrote in favor of PACE. Watch for more litigation and legislation.