Mexican Congress passes bill opening oil industry to U.S., others | CBS News

MexicoProtestsMexico’s Congress voted Thursday to open the country’s moribund state-run oil industry to foreign and domestic investors, casting aside nationalist opposition to approve the most dramatic energy reform in seven decades.

The 353-134 vote will allow the government to give private companies contracts and licenses to explore and drill for oil and gas, deals now prohibited under Mexico’s constitution.

The final step, approval by 17 of Mexico’s 31 states, is widely seen as assured.

The state-run oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, has had a monopoly since the government took over operations of foreign oil companies in 1938, a move that has been revered ever since as a symbol of national sovereignty.

Opponents say they fear that multinationals, especially from the U.S., will once again regain the sort of domination they had over Mexico’s oil before 1938. Mexico remains one of the top five crude exporters to the U.S., shipping more than 1 million barrels a day.

Leftist lawmakers tried to block discussion of the measure on Wednesday by seizing the main chamber of the House of Deputies, blocking access with chairs and tables.

When the debate was moved to another room, they dragged out discussion for 20 hours before the measure was finally approved.

“The homeland is not for sale! The homeland is to be defended!” they shouted while holding protest signs and Mexican flags.

One congressman of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party, Antonio Garcia Conejo, undressed during a speech Wednesday to dramatize his assertion the bill is a “plunder of the nation.”

But most oil analysts had a positive view of the bill hashed out by President Enrique Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party and the conservative National Action Party.

They say major change is needed to rescue Mexico’s oil industry, where production has declined, and where Pemex hasn’t had the finances or expertise needed to tap the country’s vast deep-water and shale reserves.

While oil output has been rising in the U.S. and Canada, Mexico’s production has fallen 25 percent since 2004 despite increased investment.

According to Pemex statistics, the company has nearly 14 billion barrels in proven reserves and up to 115 billion barrels in prospective reserves, about half of which are in deep water or shale oil and gas.

“The opening of Mexico’s markets to put it bluntly, we believe is very good for the people of Mexico and the people everywhere in the world that uses energy,” William Colton, Exxon Mobil’s vice president of corporate strategic planning, said in a webcast before the vote Thursday. “It’s win-win if there ever was one.”

Supporters say a better energy sector could add at least a full percentage point to Mexico’s annual growth rate, which was scaled back dramatically this year from a projected 3.5 percent to 1.3 percent. Backers also say it will be a boon to all three countries, the U.S., Canada and Mexico, in the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“We are going to be able to develop services and competencies in dealing with energy that are transferrable from one country to another,” Thomas Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told The Associated Press. “They all have some differences in commodities and have their own regulatory systems, but all of it will be in the context of a lot oil, a lot of gas, a lot of coal and a fundamental ability to attract manufacturing, to improve supply chain and to drive the creation of jobs and economic growth.”

Barclays Research, part of the Corporate and Investment Banking division of Barclays Bank, says the process of boosting production will be slow. Pemex estimates it needs more than $60 billion a year in investment to explore reserves, and currently gets about $24 billion.

“We have to recognize that this is an important effort in a historic sense. However, the challenges are huge because of the amount that has to be done to implement the reform as it is designed,” said Michelle Michot Foss, head of the University of Texas’ Center for Energy Economics.

The measure would allow contracts for profit- and production-sharing as well as licenses under which companies would pay royalties and taxes to the Mexican government for the right to explore and drill.

Private companies could post reserves as long as they specify in contracts that all oil and gas belongs to Mexico. The constitution would continue to prohibit oil concessions, considered the most liberal kind of access for private oil companies.

The bill also calls for mechanisms to prevent, detect and punish corruption in all new contracts, though the specifics must be worked out in what’s known as the secondary laws.

It also appears to reduce the influence of the powerful oil union run by Carlos Romero Deschamps, whose family is famous for its ostentatious lifestyle.

Pemex has an estimated 155,000 employees, of which about 101,000 are unionized, according to Mexico’s Center for Economic Investigation and Education.

Romero Deschamps, who is also a senator for Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, was initially in favor of the reform proposal, which barely touched Pemex or the union. But in a last-minute change approved by both houses, the bill effectively removed the union’s representation on the Pemex board of directors.

Romero Deschamps walked out of the Senate and didn’t vote.

Source: CBS News

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Time lapse map of every nuclear explosion ever on Earth

By Isao Hashimoto

Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto has created a beautiful, undeniably scary time-lapse map of the 2053 nuclear explosions which have taken place between 1945 and 1998, beginning with the Manhattan Project’s “Trinity” test near Los Alamos and concluding with Pakistan’s nuclear tests in May of 1998. This leaves out North Korea’s two alleged nuclear tests in this past decade (the legitimacy of both of which is not 100% clear).

Each nation gets a blip and a flashing dot on the map whenever they detonate a nuclear weapon, with a running tally kept on the top and bottom bars of the screen. Hashimoto, who began the project in 2003, says that he created it with the goal of showing”the fear and folly of nuclear weapons.” It starts really slow — if you want to see real action, skip ahead to 1962 or so — but the buildup becomes overwhelming.

Source: Isao Hashimoto

US Gov’t: Alaska island “appears to show impacts from Fukushima” — “Significant cesium isotope signature” detected — Scientists anticipate more marine life to be impacted as ocean plume arrives | ENENEWS

FukushimaDaiichi-BeforeAfter-288Amchitka Island, Alaska, Biological Monitoring Report 2011 Sampling Results
September 2013: To determine what [Fukushima Dai-ichi’s] direct release of radioactive materials into the atmosphere might have contributed to the background radiation on Amchitka and Adak Islands, semiquantitative gamma spectrometry measurements were made […] The results imply that Dolly Varden [a type of fish], rockweed, and to a lesser extent, Irish lord [a type of fish] appear to contain a significant cesium isotope signature from Fukushima Dai-ichi. The estimated 134Cs/137Cs activity ratios in pooled fauna samples at the time sampled ranged from <30 to about 60 percent. Observations of Fukushima-derived fallout impacting on this region are supported by findings of elevated levels of 134Cs (and 137Cs) in lichen and soil collected from both the Adak and Amchitka regions. […]

Lichen sample from mid-2011 expressed in picocuries/kilogram — Lichen on  the island had less than 70 pCi/kg of Cs-137 in 1997.

Department of Energy:
Biological Monitoring at Amchitka Appears to Show Impacts from Fukushima Dai-ichi Incident […] The U.S. Department of Energy Office Legacy Management (LM) has a long-term stewardship mission to protect human health and the environment from the legacy of underground nuclear testing conducted at Amchitka Island, Alaska, from 1965 to 1971. […] Atmospheric monitoring in the United States showed elevated cesium activities shortly after the [Fukushima] nuclear incident. LM scientists anticipated that atmospheric transport of cesium would potentially increase the cesium activities in the 2011 biological samples collected near Amchitka. Because cesium-134 has a relatively short half-life of 2 years and indicates leakage from a nuclear reactor, it is a clear indicator of a recent nuclear accident […] Because the Amchitka 2011 sampling event occurred soon after the Fukushima nuclear accident, the biota impacted by atmospheric precipitation showed the greatest impact (e.g., species that live in freshwater or shallow ocean waters) when compared to marine biota living in deeper water. This is because ocean currents are a slower transport process than wind currents. LM scientists anticipate that the marine biota will show the impacts of Fukushima during the next sampling event, currently scheduled to occur in 2016. […]

Source: ENENEWS

Fracking the American Dream: Drilling Decreases Property Value | EcoWatch

NAShaleBedsDrilling conflicts are almost always described in the context of their impacts on air, water and health. But increasingly, as the drilling boom sweeps the country, another part of the drilling story is starting to bubble up in drilling hotspots like Colorado, Pennsylvania, New York, Wyoming and Texas.

Increasingly, oil and gas development is butting up against, and often trampling, the bedrock American principles of property rights and the value of one’s home. The map below shows all the shale gas in play in North America.

Industry estimates peg the number new wells that will be drilled across the U.S. over the next decade at more than 200,000. In this rush to tap once unreachable deposits, oil and gas development is pushing the boundaries of drilling. Innovations like fracking and horizontal drilling mean nothing is out of reach. Once the province of wide open spaces, drilling rigs now regularly inch up and even into communities that never anticipated having to address problems like round-the-clock noise, storage tanks, drums of toxic chemicals, noxious fumes, and pipelines near homes, schools, playgrounds and parks.

This clash of large-scale industrial activity and communities has surfaced a deep rift in the American landscape, where the legal doctrine of split estates allows one party to own mineral rights and someone else to hold the rights to soil and surface. With the oil and gas industry showing little self-restraint in where drilling happens, and almost no regulatory or legal precedents to protect them from having industrial activity in their back yards, communities are fighting back. Increased truck traffic, chemicals, lights, noise, heavy equipment, noxious air emissions and water contamination are liabilities for landowners, to the point that communities in Colorado, New York and other states have taken matters into their own hands.

Feeling unprotected by weak state and oil and gas regulations—most of which were developed never contemplating drilling in urban and suburban landscapes—towns, cities and counties are instituting moratoria and bans on drilling within their borders. There are fracking-related ballot measures in at least four Colorado communities this year.

But it’s not just “not-in-my-back-yard”-ism driving this reactive opposition. The financial risks posed by drilling are real and substantial enough, for example, that banks and insurers are adopting guidelines that forbid mortgage loans or insurance coverage on properties affected by drilling. It’s a battle between oil and gas and the nest egg of countless Americans.

The following examples begin to piece together the ways in which the threats posed by drilling and the deep pockets of the oil and gas industry quite literally hit home. Taken together, they are a call for decision-makers to start quantifying data and asking tough questions about drilling vs. the American Dream. Read more…

Source: EcoWatch

Is Humanity Bent on a Path Towards Total Species Extinction? | Waking Giant News Service

By John David Van Hove, Editor
Waking Giant News Service

“The splitting of the atom changed everything – save man’s mode of thinking, thus we drift towards unparalleled catastrophe.” – Albert Einstein

FukishimiFalloutGiven the arrogance and hubris of modern civilization after the nuclear core meltdown and release of extremely high amounts of dangerous radiation from the cooling rods of the badly damaged Fukishima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan, a sad realization came loud and clear – humanity is pathologically bent on a path to total species extinction, not only of other living creatures, but of our own human race.

Remember this – extinction is a total waste of time!

This, my friends, is not the first wake-up call, but it may very well be the last.

NUCLEAR AGE

The nuclear age began on August 6th – 9th, 1945 after the Manhattan Project developed the bomb in secret. These dates marked the 66th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima/Nagasaki. Within the first two to four months of the bombings, the acute effects killed 90,000 – 166,000 in Hiroshima and 60,000 – 80,000 in Nagasaki.

Since that fateful day nine nations have engaged in the nuclear arms race with the dominant nations being the United States and Russia (formerly the Soviet Union). There are currently nearly 8,000 active nuclear warheads and more than 22,000 total nuclear warheads in the world. That’s enough nuclear weapons to destroy the Earth hundreds of times.

THREE-MILE ISLAND

Since that fateful day we’ve had a core-meltdown of Three Mile Island on March 28th, 1979 near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in the United States with the release of at least 2.5 million curies of radioactive gases and 15 curies of iodine-131.

“In the nuclear age, six minutes away, from perpetual annihilation.” – Beyond War

CHERNOBYL

According to a report published by the New York Academy of Sciences, more than 1,000,000 people were killed as a direct or indirect result of the Chernobyl disaster on April 26th, 1986 in Russia with 40% of Europe is still contaminated with radiation 25 years later. Over 20,000 people have developed thyroid cancer. Turkish food exports are still extremely radioactive. Don’t buy food from Europe!

FUKISHIMA

The total radiation releases from Fukishima disaster are many times worse than Chernobyl and presently radiation levels near the site are off-the-charts (in other words a Geiger counter cannot read doses that high). According to a recent analysis by Dr. Helen Caldicott, M.D. with Physicians for Social Responsibility in each core there is as much long-lived radiation produced as there is with ONE-THOUSAND Hiroshima sized bombs.

NUCLEAR POWER & RADIATION

As Einstein said, “Nuclear energy is ONE HELL of a way to BOIL WATER.” When you fission Uranium in a nuclear power plant over 200 new elements are formed, all of which are much more poisonous to the body than the original Uranium.

Uranium is poisonous enough and has been used on the ground in both Fallujah and Baghdad during the Iraq war and has resulting in gross deformation of over 80% of the babies born in that region. Doctors are telling women not to have babies anymore. Cancer rates in children have risen 12 times.

Uranium persists in the environment for over 4.5 billion years. Western powers and the United States are contaminating the cradle of civilization. This is nothing short of genocide and solid evidence of a nuclear war being conducted on the ground in Iraq.

HEALTH EFFECTS OF RADIATION POISONING

In nuclear power plants there are numerous contaminants and isotopes being generated some of which last seconds and others persist for billions of years. Radioactive Iodine lasts six weeks and is stored in the thyroid gland. If ingested it causes thyroid cancer thus saturating the thyroid with Potassium Iodide or another iodine supplement prevents the radioactive Iodine from being absorbed. Strontium 90 has been released and will persist for 600 years. It is absorbed in the bones where bone cancer or leukemia develops. Cesium-137 lasts for 600 years and it still persists all over Europe since Chernobyl.

One of the most deadly radioactive contaminants is Plutonium. If you inhale 0.000001 Gram of Plutonium you’ll develop cancer. Hypothetically 454 Grams, or 1 Pound if evenly distributed, could give everyone on Earth cancer. Each nuclear reactor has 250,000 Grams, or 250 Kilograms of Plutonium. You only need 2.5 Kilograms to make a nuclear bomb. As a result of the radiation release from Fukishima, Japan, Plutonium is going to get out and spread all over the Northern Hemisphere. Also released is Radioactive Iodine-129 with a half-life of 17 million years, Strontium 90, Cesium-137, Tritium, Americium-241, etc., etc., etc

NUCLEAR FALLOUT

When it rains over North America the radioactive fallout comes down to Earth and lodges itself in the food supply which concentrates and accumulates until we intake it at the top of the food chain. You cannot see, taste or smell radioactive poisons in your food. Radioactivity is a silent, persistent and patient killer. All radiation is damaging and accumulative. This doesn’t mean you drop dead immediately upon intake, it could take 5 – 60 years before a cancer develops.

Radioactive waste from these nuclear power plants which has been stored underground and in tens of thousands of leaking barrels for the last fifty years will induce epidemics of Cancer, Leukemia and Genetic disease for the rest of time. Imagine 12,000 semi-truckloads of radioactive waste being transported all over North America over the next 12 years and landing at Hanford for permanent storage.

This is by far the largest public health hazard the public has ever witnessed, yet most remain solidly in denial of the consequences of nuclear power left untamed and the waste unaddressed. This is the single-most threat, short of nuclear war, to the continuance of the human species and life on Earth.

Source: Waking Giant News Service

3 to 4.3 Billion Barrels of Technically Recoverable Oil Assessed in North Dakota and Montana’s Bakken Formation – 25 Times More Than 1995 Estimate | USGS

North Dakota and Montana have an estimated 3.0 to 4.3 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil in an area known as the Bakken Formation.

A U.S. Geological Survey assessment, released April 10, shows a 25-fold increase in the amount of oil that can be recovered compared to the agency’s 1995 estimate of 151 million barrels of oil.

Technically recoverable oil resources are those producible using currently available technology and industry practices. USGS is the only provider of publicly available estimates of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas resources.

New geologic models applied to the Bakken Formation, advances in drilling and production technologies, and recent oil discoveries have resulted in these substantially larger technically recoverable oil volumes. About 105 million barrels of oil were produced from the Bakken Formation by the end of 2007.

The USGS Bakken study was undertaken as part of a nationwide project assessing domestic petroleum basins using standardized methodology and protocol as required by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 2000.

The Bakken Formation estimate is larger than all other current USGS oil assessments of the lower 48 states and is the largest “continuous” oil accumulation ever assessed by the USGS. A “continuous” oil accumulation means that the oil resource is dispersed throughout a geologic formation rather than existing as discrete, localized occurrences. The next largest “continuous” oil accumulation in the U.S. is in the Austin Chalk of Texas and Louisiana, with an undiscovered estimate of 1.0 billions of barrels of technically recoverable oil. Read more…