Mexican lawmakers have approved controversial electricity reforms which environmental campaigners see as a major setback to efforts to switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
The bill was passed in the Senate by 68 votes to 58 on Tuesday night, following its approval last week by the lower house of Congress, the Chamber of Deputies.
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Both are dominated by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s party and its allies.
The left-wing populist says the reforms are needed to strengthen the state-owned Federal Electricity Commission and prevent power prices from increasing.
Lopez Obrador welcomed the bill’s approval, saying it would help Mexico “to face difficult moments, such as what happened in Texas that had an impact on our country.”
Several Mexican states suffered blackouts due to disruption to gas supplies from the United States after an unusually severe winter storm hit the state of Texas in February.
Critics say the reforms unfairly favor fossil fuels like oil and gas over renewable energy from sources such as wind and solar produced by private firms.
Environmental group Greenpeace has warned that the bill “perpetuates a highly damaging model for the environment, which does not combat, but rather promotes, climate change that the Mexican state has a constitutional obligation to fight.”
Until now the Federal Electricity Commission has been required to buy renewable energy through auctions, but the reforms end that obligation.
Businessmen have also expressed concern that Mexico is in danger of breaching its trade agreement with the United States and Canada by favoring a state-run company.
That potentially risks creating frictions with the administration of US President Joe Biden, who has pledged to make tackling global warming a top priority.