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


      Pay the Same, Get More: No New Boulder Franchise Agreement

      August 9, 2010 (NewEnergyNews)

      (The Boulder, Colorado, City Council recently voted not to put a franchise agreement with Xcel Energy on their Novemer ballot. In this advocacy piece, columnist Anne Butterfield explains why it was the right decision.)

      If Boulder makes a commitment to get more information to voters for November's ballot, it has a real chance to pay the same but get more from its energy supply. And "more" means freedom to examine options for lots more clean energy either from Xcel Energy or by way of creating a municipal utility.

      And according to former City Council member Steve Pomerance, who spoke for the Decarbonization Tech Team at the July 13 City Council meeting, energy providers are already expressing interest in helping Boulder get clean energy apart from Xcel Energy.
      (The video is on the city`s Web site under "Council," so check it out. Scroll down to July 13 and hit "load meeting" and play.)

      With the Xcel franchise coming to an end this year, the City Council will soon vote on what to put on November's ballot to let Boulderites vote their preferences.

      The city has already begun to speak. Polling done by Tamley-Drake Research with 625 respondents has shown the city is divided about the franchise proposition -- and that people are under-informed. Early in the polling process, respondents lined up 43 percent in favor of franchise renewal, 23 percent opposed and 33 percent undecided.

      But when given more information during the poll (described as being "for Xcel" or "for the city" by various people), undecided respondents switched to opposing franchise renewal -- by 35 percent (with only 2 percent gain on the opposing side). This is perhaps the most meaningful result: With information, voters move to seeing renewal as a bad deal and municipalization as good.

      Also, with more information, voters increase their support for the idea of a utility tax to replace the $4 million the city would lose from Xcel's franchise fee after it expires. Xcel's Craig Eicher indicated that without a franchise the company lacks the authority to collect and remit the money -- however, the company does have the authority to extend the franchise, as evidenced by Xcel's choice to extend Boulder's franchise from August to December this year. It seems the company is willing to push Boulder by refusing to extend the franchise further, as requested.

      Another important sign from the poll was a preference for fast addition of renewable energy so pronounced it was called "lopsided" by Bob Drake.

      In the muddled results of the poll there seems to be a pathway: With more information, Boulderites tend to favor the tools for life without a franchise. So, it makes sense to aggressively promote the replacement tax and allow the franchise to lapse. The lights stay on, going back to Xcel remains an option, and monthly bills would be the same as under a franchise. And next year, the city would proceed to research and educate the public on the options for getting much more renewable energy that they clearly want.

      Xcel's view is that under its franchise, Boulder would have no restriction for rapid decarbonization: We can invest in solar gardens (helpful, but the program is capped), or subscribe to WindSource (helpful, but the rates shield customers from the protections and price advantages that renewables will give down the road). Eicher asserted that Boulder could push for more clean energy policy through the Legislature, or by intervening at the Public Utilities Commission -- as if that were a haven of democracy and choice.

      Under former Gov. Bill Owens, commissioners at the PUC literally ousted any intervenor who mentioned the phrase "climate change," and climate science papers introduced as evidence were all excluded. Under chairman Ron Binz who was appointed by Gov. Bill Ritter, admission for science documents was nearly as grim. Imagine the PUC under a Scott McInnis administration, which is to say, a governor who has demonstrated by trivializing his plagiarism fiasco that he doesn't value research. Working through the PUC is not democracy and choice, it's a brain damage.

      Staying with Xcel means paying a hefty premium for being an asset to an investor-owned utility with exorbitant overhead. People worried about "redistribution of wealth" should be fiercely opposed to a 20-year contract with a monopoly in which ratepayers are assets to be leveraged for profits and payouts to investors.

      However, a municipal utility, which Boulder could form with providers already making calls, could save the city money over time. According to the American Public Power Association, investor-owned utilities charge roughly 17 percent more in rates than munis. The free market is great, but being part of an investor-owned utility is no free market. Better to push for local control over our power, and the ballot this fall should provide us those options at stable costs.

      Versions of this column have appeared at Huffington Post and in the Boulder Daily Camera