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 2B means Progress on Clean Energy

      Boulder's 2B means Progress on Clean Energy
      Anne B. Butterfield, October 25, 2010 (Huffington post)

      In mountaineering there's a land feature known as a saddle -- a high ridge between two or more peaks from which a climber can study options for ascent or descent. The saddle is not a destination but rather a strategic place for planning. It's worth the energy spent in reaching, especially if the route or conditions are uncertain.

      That's what Yes on 2B offers the City of Boulder. It allows Boulder to investigate real plans for its energy future and report back to voters in the next year or more. 2B is not an energy plan, but a mechanism to let the city have stable funding while being legally separate from Xcel Energy and its annual franchise fee amounting to about $4 million. 2B is therefore dubbed the "replacement tax."

      Here is how two City Councilors put it in the Daily Camera:

      “2B has the unanimous support of city council and its passage is critical. Simply put, if it fails the city will need to cut its General Fund budget by over $4 million per year. That will significantly reduce support for a wide variety of essential services, including police, human services, libraries, parks and recreation, and open space.”

      To help clarify some misconceptions about Issue 2B, here is what it will not do:

      - 2B will not affect Xcel`s provision of energy to Boulder customers in any way
      - 2B will not change your relationship with Xcel as your energy provider
      - 2B will not raise additional revenue for the city
      - 2B is technically a new tax, but it will not cost you extra money
      - 2B does not, in any way, imply support for replacing Xcel as the city`s energy provider
      - 2B does not, in any way, affect your control, as a voter, over the ultimate decision about how Boulder will meet its future energy needs.

      This "replacement of the franchise fee" could seem confusing, since a franchise fee itself is a strange creature. Why would any utility pay a city so much money rather than merely lower its utility bills? The tradition of franchise fees started as an inducement for the long term contract while giving the utility access to city property (like a lease). It was first paid out of the utility's earnings. Now utilities often collect and remit the fee directly from ratepayers. It's as if Xcel has morphed into being a taxing authority for the City, and this status will last to the end of this year when the franchise expires. 2B replaces that funding, allowing the city to provide familiar services with stable funding while exploring options for getting Boulder to a very high proportion of clean energy in the next several years.

      There's no reason to assume that Boulder should hang tight with Xcel Energy and wait for its supposedly excellent plans for decarbonization to pay off -- for in fact many challenges have come against the coal plant retirement plan known as HB 1365 or the Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act. Xcel has recently stated that fulfilling its own proposal to retire up to 900 megawatts of coal capacity will risk reliability and unreasonable cost impacts on customers. The state's health department has stated that Xcel's plan cannot meet the air improvement requirements of law.

      On top of that, this week, the Colorado Mining Association filed a motion to block two of three Public Utilities commissioners from ruling on the $1.3 billion plan to close several coal plants. The charge is that Chairman Ron Binz and Matt Baker are embroiled in conflict of interest having clearly negotiated with Xcel Energy on the framework for cost recovery for the utility's plan to replace coal capacity with natural gas turbines. "The Commissioners have breached their duty to the people of Colorado by making a private deal with Xcel Energy (PSCo) to allow it to 'spend itself rich,'" the motion alleges.
      Xcel Energy defends its involvement by explaining that such negotiation is business as usual. But this time they're not saying it to powerless citizen intervenors, they're saying it to a major industry in the state.

      So the legal challenge may devolve into a battle of the titans with limitless legal resources (Xcel's being paid for by ratepayers), and it could drag on.

      Therefore it is truly fortuitous that Boulder's City Council chose not to renew its franchise agreement with Xcel, and can explore options for becoming a municipal utility or compelling Xcel to assist with legislative restraints and create for Boulder a unique business arrangement, such as it does with numerous major buyers in the state.

      Boulder has the company of many communities that are breaking away from business as usual for their energy supply. Marin County in California fought its state's mega-utility, PG&E, to retain its right to form its own utility and now is the nation's first to derive 75 percent of its energy from renewable sources, with rates lower than those charged for natural gas. Winterpark, Florida, broke loose of its investor-owned utility through a five year process strongly supported by voters, resulting in higher reliability. Gainesville, Florida and Ontario, Canada have instituted guaranteed rates to buy renewable power, causing rapid installation at low rates.

      These visions could be possible for Boulder, and they can be explored and vetted with no change in utility rates and no change in city services either, should 2B get passed by the voters. It's a good to get to a secure place where options can be thoroughly explored.

      Vote yes on 2B.

      Real Growing Pains and the Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act

      Real Growing Pains and the Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act
      October 13, 2010 (Huffington Post)

      Colorado's Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act (HB 1365) is crafted to take Colorado past its coal intensive glory by ordering Xcel Energy (and Black Hills) to retire or retrofit a significant portion of their coal burning capacity and supplant it with natural gas. For Xcel, that means about 900 megawatts - all of Valmont's 186 MW in Boulder, and most of Cherokee in Denver. This law was passed to protect the state from top-down intervention expected from the US Environmental Protection Agency in compelling compliance with clean air standards.

      And the Front Range needs to comply. To listen to doctors from National Jewish Health speak -- of the effect of ozone and particulates on the lungs of Front Range residents at the public hearing at the Public Utilities Commission on September 23 -- is to lose all doubt.

      Through four and a half hours, roughly one hundred people gave sworn testimony that fell largely into two camps -- one on the costly health effects of the particulates and ozone-laced air, and the other camp spoke of the economic ruin that mining communities fearfully expect.

      (Full disclosure: Yours truly testified of her history with mild asthma and lung surgery to correct a rare lung disorder needed while living close to the Valmont plant.)

      A mom from Golden spoke with three children; she told of her youngest child's asthma, its impact on his life and hers, of the trips to medical appointments and other efforts.

      Perhaps most jarring was a pediatrician citing a study on healthy children -- one group growing up in air laced with small particulates and ozone, and a second group living in clean air. The former group reportedly had five times more measurable lung damage than the latter. A doctor for Physicians for Social Responsibility described the smallness of airborne particulates enabling them to pass through the blood-brain barrier, contributing perhaps to a noted trend of lower IQs in children in the most polluted areas.

      The commissioners also heard from railroad executives and truck drivers, hotel owners in Craig, a power plant operator and dozens of miners and their relatives opposing the plan to retire rather than retrofit coal plant capacity. The level of emotion for all but the executives was palpable. Most emphasized the many generations their families had lived in Colorado and how they adored their communities; many exclaimed the pristine air of northwest Colorado, thanks, reportedly, to top-notch scrubbers on their nearby large coal plant.

      So much was said of the extraordinarily deep blue of the sky around Craig, one could not help but wonder about the solar energy potential.

      It certainly seemed that the area, and the niceness of the people, must make a terrific destination for a weekend visit.

      Along with the local pride was evidence of the coal community feeling downtrodden. One woman, near tears, showed the portraits of members of her family, sure that HB 1365 would dislocate them. One man introduced himself as "one of those dirty coal miners everyone's been talking about." Many seemed shaken by the seriousness of air quality issues, remarking how "no one wants bad air quality."

      In preparation for the public hearings, the Commission posted an economic impact report on HB 1365 by the LEEDS School of Business, which some opponents criticized. However its predictions indicate that Colorado's coal country can prevail -- with assertions that two-thirds of coal produced in Colorado now is sold out of state, and the portion going to Valmont and Cherokee is only 7 percent. Net jobs in the coal industry would supposedly remain constant.

      Colorado Conservation Voters paid for a public opinion poll on HB 1365 that was conducted by two polling firms, one Democratic and one Republican. It found that nearly 80 percent of voters prefer their power to be generated by natural gas and renewable resources instead of coal -- and are willing to pay for it, as reported by the Denver Business Journal.

      The pain of the coal miners and their families was distressing to watch. As often as they spoke of rising demand for energy, some must have guessed their product would see no slump in demand if Cherokee and Valmont stopped burning coal. Indeed, Peabody Coal has been announcing its vision for greater salesthrough exports to China, with intent to get ports in the Northwest expanded. Maybe the large number of t-shirts emblazoned with "Clean Coal Technology - It Works" had something to do with the miners' selection of information.

      Nonetheless, clean energy leaders in the Front Range should take a look at Colorado's coal mining areas, their beautiful natural resources, their labor market and community colleges, and the Workforce Investment Act's ability to help workers through transitions that we on the Front Range are all too willing to cause and profit by. Colorado's coal country also needs to profit in the New Energy Economy, instead of being so dominated by one industry.