Tuesday, June 18, 2024

As court prepares to consider electricity law, environmentalists unite against it

An umbrella group of environmental organizations announced Monday that it would make a submission to the Supreme Court (SCJN) to argue against the Electricity Industry Law (LIE), which was approved by Congress last year.

The SCJN will consider the constitutionality of the law on Tuesday.

The LIE gives power generated by the state-owned Federal Electricity Commission priority on the national grid over that produced by private and renewable energy companies.

The law took effect on March 10, 2021, but a federal judge promptly ordered its suspension, ruling that it could harm free competition and cause irreparable damage to the environment because it favors traditional energy sources over renewable ones.  The decision came in response to suspension requests filed by renewable energy companies.

A day before the SCJN commences its consideration of the constitutionality of the LIE,  a collective of 38 environmental organizations led by Nuestro Futuro (Our Future) said it would file an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief against the law.

Nora Cabrera Velasco, director of Nuestro Futuro – an organization made up of young environmentalists, said the proposal by Justice Loretta Ortiz Ahlf that the LIE be declared constitutional doesn’t take the law’s environmental shortcomings into account.

Ortiz is a former federal deputy for the ruling Morena party and its ally the Labor Party, a political history that opposition lawmakers say affects her capacity to rule on the constitutionality of the LIE in an impartial way.

Cabrera said the law the justice wants to validate lacks provisions to tackle climate change. The amicus curiae brief “is a very important document because it’s signed by a lot of organizations,” she said.

“It’s one of the few amicus [briefs] presented in relation to the Electricity Industry Law. We believe that the justices must put climate change in the center of the debate,” Cabrera said.

“…What we want is a constitutional precedent in which the justices recognize that we have a right to have serious and effective climate change mitigation policies.”

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, columnist Mary Anastasia O’Grady said the Supreme Court’s ruling on the LIE “will signal whether it is still independent or if it has become a tool of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador,” commonly known as AMLO.

She wrote that that the LIE “effectively puts an end to competition among electricity generators, damages investors, and revives the monopoly power of the state-owned federal electricity company.”

“This contravenes the constitution, which was amended in 2013 to open the market to private capital and guarantee a level playing field for all,” O’Grady added.

She noted that the constitutional challenges were filed by Mexico’s competition commission, members of Congress and the state of Colima, and that Justice Ortiz “wrote the opinion that argues the law is constitutional.”

O’Grady acknowledged that Ortiz – “who staunchly opposed the opening of energy markets in 2013 as a congresswoman for the Workers’ Party and is a hardcore AMLO supporter” – needs only a simple majority of the 11 magistrates to prevail on Tuesday.

“That’s not impossible but it’s unlikely. If it happens it will mark the end of the court as a serious arbiter,” she wrote.

With reports from Milenio

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