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


      Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble

      Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble
      Anne Butterfield, March 16, 2012 (Huffngton Post via NewEnergyNews)

      Fracking for natural gas is on Coloradans' minds. From landholders to policy makers, it's a pig pile of attention on the environmental effects, which are bad enough when real -- roads ruined by heavy trucks carting waste water, and waste water voided from the hydrologic cycle when stored in disposal wells, seeps from faulty linings of containment pits, methane leaks that make shale gas as climate intensive as coal, and air quality such as Erie's becomes more tainted with hydrocarbons than Houston and Los Angeles, to name just a few.

      Unincorporated Boulder County has just entered a moratorium on fracking, plus Erie and the city of Longmont as well. Aurora is crafting its own regulations. It's a patchwork of regulations in the making, amounting to one big "Whoa, Nellie!" to the industry.

      And as one driller told me, "involvement by local government is an expeditious way to curtail drilling." It's a big enough impediment to drilling that Rex Tillerson of Exxon Mobil hit the publicity trail last week to weigh in against layers of local regulation.

      However, something else that's supportive of the idea to just slow down is an economic backdrop not discussed enough -- the mythical quality of the claim of 100 years of gas, a claim oft-stated by President Obama. On this fossil fuel gold rush we are in the midst of a new bubble, say many researchers and experts.

      Imagine the nation creating another large economic bubble after all we've been through.

      And that's just what fossil energy researchers such as Dave Hughes of Canada have been claiming about shale gas plays and fracking, pointing out in a 2011 report, "conventional gas wells decline by 25-40 percent in their first year of production, whereas shale gas wells decline at rates such as 63-85 percent."

      Due to the costly inputs of capital, energy and water involved in fracking, shale gas is economic only in the most bountiful zones. And if capital was attracted to projects based on extrapolations from the best zones and early production rates, and if companies get caught up in land grabs hoping to profit (which has happened), then companies may need to "carpet bomb" areas with drill rigs to try to keep up production.

      This is another kind of pig pile, also known in Hughes' exemplary vernacular as the exploration "treadmill" and "an exercise in creating greater complexity with lower and lower returns." (For a truly deep dive into energy return on energy invested check this out and feel your investor heart go ack!!.)

      The Potential Gas Committee (an all-volunteer industry research group related to Colorado School of Mines) has assessments for gas indicating that while "resources" could suffice for 80 years of use, "reserves" may suffice for only about 23. Reserves are areas proven to have gas that can come up in economically and operationally effective ways. It's a difference of a bird in the pen versus several in the wind. It might be nice to have more than 23 firm years of gas now that coal plants are being retired all over the nation due to aging plants, depleting supplies of cheap coal and utilities gunning for supposedly cheap gas.

      Ian Urbina of the New York Times has been drilling down through gas industry emails and documents to find an unexpectedly low level of confidence in the gas boom, saying, "There is undoubtedly a vast amount of gas in the formations. The question remains how affordably it can be extracted." His reporting refers to possibly deliberate overstatement of reserves by speculators and of federal and state lawmakers considering drastically increasing subsidies for drilling in the hopes of low-cost energy.

      With this going on, any Colorado voter might ask with squinty-eyed suspicion what the heck Governor Hickenlooper was up to when he created and then defended radio ads for gas extraction paid for by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association. It's a pie in the sky endorsement that should not come from one elected to represent the whole state who also happens to be a geologist who should know better. Environmental groups have erupted with push back stating that his proclamations of no leaks from fracking is not remotely accurate.

      Meanwhile, let's recall that it's called "oil and gas" for a reason. In some formations oil brought up with gas can subsidize and prolong drilling and fatten state coffers. We like the state making revenues in these forlorn TABOR days, but pumping up financial bubbles has a tendency to blow up in everyones' faces -- with Colorado's land, water, climate and energy future in the balance. And as the bubble grows it depletes a resource so precious as a feedstock for chemicals that insiders compare it to gold.

      We need to save that gas and slow down this pressure to frack it and burn it, so, let's push right back against the governor and Rex Tillerson and go for local control of fracking. Also, let's blunt our demand for gas by supporting solar thermal technology for heating buildings (see a video about Colorado becoming a global leader in solar thermal development).

      Perhaps Colorado should launch a new renewable energy standard for solar thermal to loosen our enslavement to fossil fuels for heating. Lastly, we need to support a renewed push for property assessed clean energy financing (PACE) for retrofitting homes for efficient and clean energy, in a bill created to support the program now happening in Congress (see HR 2599) and by putting in comments with home mortgage regulators who shut down the PACE program.

      Author's note: Want to support my work? Please "fan" me at Huffpost Denver, here ( Thanks.