For Mexico’s president, the future isn’t renewable energy — it’s coal

From The Los Angeles Times

It appears to have pained the writers at the LA times to write this piece. Emphasis mine.

The president has halted new renewable projects, mocked wind farms as “fans” that blight the landscape, and poured money into state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, including $9 billion for construction of a new refinery. Last month, he pushed legislation that requires that the energy grid first take power from state-run plants — fueled in large part by crude oil and coal — before less expensive wind and solar energy.

While admitting environmentalists are upset the writers try and cut him some slack as not just some evil denier.

López Obrador’s devotion to fossil fuels and rejection of cleaner energy at a time when most nations are moving in the opposite direction has dismayed environmentalists, who warn that Mexico will be unable to meet its emission reduction commitments under the Paris climate agreement, as well as business leaders, who warn that energy costs will rise because coal and gas cost about twice as much as wind and solar.

Experts say his policies are rooted less in climate change denialism and more in nationalism and nostalgia.ADVERTISEMENT

A populist, López Obrador is playing on Mexico’s proud history as a fossil fuel powerhouse.

He grew up in the oil-rich Tabasco state in the decades after President Lázaro Cárdenas expropriated the assets of foreign energy companies operating in Mexico and nationalized the country’s oil reserves and mineral wealth. For decades, the state-owned oil company, known as Pemex, was a main driver of Mexico’s economy.

It remained part of national lore even as mismanagement and an aging infrastructure eventually eroded the country’s position as a top oil producer.

Heh “experts say” ^

It looks as if Obrador is working on behalf of Mexican prosperity and nationalism. We can’t have that.

Lisa Viscidi, an energy expert at the U.S.-based think tank Inter-American Dialogue, said the president’s goal is to “return their monopolies” by bringing the energy sector under state control — even if that means promoting dirtier fossil fuels and contributing more carbon emissions.

“All of these things have been sacrificed for the goal of energy sovereignty,” she said.

Dozens of renewable energy companies have filed lawsuits to halt the changes, which they say unfairly push them out. With many of his policies in legal limbo, López Obrador has said he may introduce a constitutional amendment to achieve his goals.

Mexico’s president appears to be capable of standing firm in the face of Big Green.

But the president seems to relish his role as a climate pariah. He has dismissed concerns about the environmental impacts of his plans as “sophistry” from his political opponents and the nation’s elite.

“Since when are conservatives concerned about the environment?” he said in January at one of his daily news conferences. “They have seized the flag of clean energy in the same way they seized the flag of feminism or human rights.”

Speaking last fall at the reactivation of a coal plant in northern Coahuila, he lashed out at several dozen U.S. lawmakers who had published a letter criticizing his energy policies for favoring Mexico’s state companies.

“I am very happy to be here … to tell those who defend neoliberal policy that we are not going to retreat one step,” he said.

His cause was unexpectedly boosted in February, when a winter storm knocked out power in Texas. The state’s governor barred natural gas exports, leaving more than 4 million people without electricity in Mexico, which relies heavily on natural gas from the U.S.

López Obrador said it was a clear signal: “We must produce.”

Full article is here, paywalled. I used a “Private Window and slipped through.

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via Watts Up With That?

April 13, 2021 at 08:56AM

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