By RICARDO CASTILLO
Storm Brews over Clean Energy Ban
After the vociferous reaction from a number of top Mexican and international business organization leaders against the new ordinance published in the Official Gazette on Friday, May 15, by the Energy Secretariat called the Policy of Trustworthiness, Security, Continuity and Quality in the National Electricity System, as well as a myriad of accusations of leading the nation into becoming a communist state, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador(AMLO) has taken several steps backwards on the controversial new ruling to pacify the uproarious revolt.
First and foremost, AMLO said on Thursday, May 21, about the ordinance that effectively banned electrical energy purchases from wind and solar energy plants, “we are not against clean energy alternatives.”
“What we are against is corruption,” he said, “the sacking and influential arm-twisting that prevailed during the neoliberal period in Mexico’s electric energy industry. That’s the bottom line of the matter.”
By Wednesday, May 20, at least 23 of the nation’s existing 44 solar and wind electricity production projects had filed for protections through amparos, or habeas corpuses, and were allowed to restart their preoperational testing. All the amparos were granted by judges in different courts.
AMLO also had a message for the courts: “We’re going to be respectful of legality as we have shown ourselves to be before,” he said. “The judicial branch of government is autonomous and independent and we’re going to respect the decisions taken by the judges.”
But AMLO reminded the plaintiffs that under the Mexican Constitution, the government has the right to defend the decisions made by the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) on what each generating plant can do to integrate independent electricity producers.
The National Center for Energy Control (Cenace), which is the authority controlling the independent solar and wind electricity producers, meanwhile, issued a press release saying it “is validating the legal instruments within its reach to challenge the provisional admission and suspension of these activities, as well as the competence of the district courts, due to the fact that all actions referring to the National Electrical System are reserved for the Mexican state because they are considered strategic and a priority.”
Cenace officials, AMLO added, are instructed to “defend our decision that there be no privileges for the companies,” as some of them had signed contracts with former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, what AMLO called “leonine and corrupt contracts” under the Energy Reform.
“Ours is not an effort to nationalize clean energy generation. but to do away with the corruption hiding behind these contracts”,” AMLO alleged, “which are now under stiff scrutiny by the Cenace but with protective amparos on hand.”
Puebla Governor Steps Back
Puebla Governor Miguel Barbosa had to back down on his mandate prohibiting car manufacturers Volkswagen and Audi from returning to regular work by June 1.
The governor claimed their activities would increase the risk of covid-19 contagion particularly, in the state capital.
Barbosa said that, although he’d rather have it his way considering the current confirmed growth of contagions in the state is 123 per day, in the end it will be the federal government, and not the state government, that will decide on the car industry’s path to normal production activities.
“I’ll abide by what the federation decides,” he said in a press conference.
Checking the Pockets of the Rich
A proposal made by National Regeneration Movement (Morena) President Alfonso Ramírez Cuéllar to have the National Institute for Geography and Statistics (Inegi) look into the properties and finances of all Mexicans (particularly wealthy families) caused a major stir by opponents and was ultimately rejected by AMLO, who said that private financial information has to remain private.
“I don’t think it would be right to do that,” AMLO said.
“The personal inheritances and properties of businessmen — and of all Mexicans — have to remain secret.”
Only elected and government officials are required to make their finances public, AMLO said.
No Fracking Activities
The National Hydrocarbons Commission (CNH) responded to an accusation made by the National Anti-Fracking Association, which claimed that the CNH is still issuing permits to fracking companies.
The CNH said that there are seven permits that were issued in 2018 by the state-run oil company Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) during the previous administration, but that of those, under the bidding of what was known as Round Zero under AMLO, only one at camp Miquetla operated by DWF-Davaz Company is considering operations, with 49 percent participation from Pemex, as contracted.
Out of the remaining six permits, the CNH said, three have gone out of the fracking business. while the remaining three are upgrading the originally approved plan and are on hold, perhaps due to the collapse of the oil industry worldwide.
No permits have been issued since the AMLO administration was sworn in on Dec. 1, 2018, the CNH said.
Ports Not Affected
The current covid-19 pandemic will have little or no effect on activities at Mexican ports, said Integral Port Administrations Director General Fernando Bustamante Igartúa.
Projects at all major ports continue unaffected by the pandemic, Bustamante Igartúa said, and the best example of that is the Port of Veracruz, which is about to finish the infrastructure development of its new Northern Bay for containers and deep sea docking.
By the same token, similar development actions are being carried out at other port terminals to increase the transit of liquids, mineral and grain bulk transport and storage.
The construction of the new airport at the Santa Lucía plains, just a few kilometers from the Teotihuacán pyramids, has forced the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) to speed up digging in the area which is rich in ancient ruins and Pleistocene-era fauna.
For many years, the INAH had claimed not to have the resources to dig around the pyramids area, but now that it has – adding personnel idled by the covid-19 pandemic working at the Major Temple in downtown Mexico City – many archaeologists are working in the airport area.
It must be said that previously INAH officials were reluctant to dig further in the area because they knew that if they dug, they’d find something. And with the airport construction, find they did.
Besides a myriad of artifacts linked to Teotihuacán, INAH researchers knew there were animal fossils from the Pleistocene period, and now they are in the process of digging up what seems to be a mammoths’ cemetery, with 60 skeletons and thousands of mammoth bones.
INAH Archaeology Coordinator Francisco Sánchez Nava said that that’s not all.
Excavators have also found a cemetery, ceramics and seasonal camps where people dwelt.
Archaeologists are digging as the construction of the Felipe Ángeles Airport continues.