Mexican leader calls for clean energy use but defends oil exploitation

Mexico City, Apr 22 (EFE).- Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Thursday that his country is seeking to generate “clean and cheap” energy via hydroelectric plants, although he also defended the use of petroleum for the internal market.

“Although we have discovered three big reserves of hydrocarbons, the oil we’re discovering basically will be destined to cover fuel demand in the domestic market and the practice of exporting crude will be ended,” said the president, widely known as AMLO, during the virtual Climate Summit organized by the US White House and in which 40 international leaders are participating.

Lopez Obrador – who is seeking to put Mexico’s state-run Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) oil giant on a healthier financial footing – said in his address to the world leaders that in this way “we will help avoid the excessive use of fossil fuels.”

He also said that Mexico is “modernizing” its hydroelectric plants to reduce the use of fuel oil and coal to produce energy.

“The energy that’s produced with water is clean and cheap. And so we’ve decided to exchange old turbines for modern equipment, which will allow us to take advantage of the water in the reservoirs to produce more energy without building new dams and without causing other effects,” said AMLO, who recently pushed forward with an electric power reform to benefit the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE).

In his six-minute address, the Mexican leader also directed some of his remarks to US President Joe Biden, inviting him to cooperate on implementing Mexico’s reforestation project to help halt the wave of migrants from Central America, as he had announced in recent days.

He called the program, known as “Sowing Life in Central America,” which now employs some 450,000 peasants in southeastern Mexico, a “successful experience” and “possibly the largest reforestation effort in the world.”

He also said that illegal migration would not be resolved by “coercive measures” but rather by “justice and wellbeing,” adding that Biden is a “sensible” man who knows the value of migrants in national growth.

Meanwhile, Greenpeace Mexico on Thursday – Earth Day – launched an aerostatic balloon with the message “too much pollution” toward the Tula thermoelectrical power center near the Mexican capital, which the organization says causes 16,000 premature deaths each year.

“This is a thermoelectrical center that uses fuel oil, which produces lots of sulfur dioxide, ‘carbon black’ and PM2.5 particulate material emissions, which have very serious implications on human health and the environment,” Greenpeace energy and climate change expert Pablo Ramirez told EFE.

The peaceful event took place Thursday morning near the Francisco Perez Rios Tula center using a balloon with an advertising slogan.

By launching the balloon, the organization wanted to publicize the fact that the center burns fuel oil that contains 3.9 percent sulfur by mass, exceeding the legally established limit of 2 percent.

In addition, Ramirez said that the installation is just one example of many that exist in Mexico, which – he added – is seeing itself stymied internationally in transitioning to cleaner energy because of the actions of the AMLO government.

“What has occurred with electric energy policy is that it’s been subordinated to refining. Fuel oil is a byproduct in the (petroleum) refining process. Currently we have a great deal of it, … which is used practically nowhere else in the world due to its high sulfur content,” he said.

Greenpeace says that AMLO’s remarks at the Climate Summit on Thursday are not enough, adding that “until there’s an explicit ban on fuel oil, (human) health and the environment will not be protected … We believe the president’s declaration is a good sign but until this changes, in the end it will be just talk,” he said.


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