Mexico energy regulator gives natural gas 'clean' label, drawing criticism
MEXICO CITY, May 26 (Reuters) - A move by Mexico's energy regulator to declare some natural gas-fired power as "clean" drew criticism from environmental groups that say the change will not help the country reach its clean energy targets.
Mexico's Energy Regulatory Commission, known by CRE for its initials in Spanish, on Friday announced changes to standards for energy efficiency measurements for power plants.
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In a document on the government's official gazette, CRE said some electricity produced from co-generation plants that burn natural gas, a fossil fuel, "will be considered clean electric energy" if the plants meet certain requirements.
Natural gas is generally considered by energy analysts to be a transition fuel, a cleaner-burning power source than coal or fuel oil that can bridge a gradual switch to renewable sources. Gas itself is not usually referred to as a clean energy source.
The reclassification drew criticism on Friday from environmentalists who say the regulator is endorsing processes and fuels that create pollution, pose health risks and contribute to global warning.
"The world would be made to believe that our country is increasing the percentage of renewable energies in our energy matrix when in reality it is not," said four environmental organizations, including Greenpeace, in a joint statement.
Mexico's climate change law sets a goal for 35% of the country's electricity to come from clean sources by 2024.
The regulator's change "will not add a single mega-watt (MW) of renewable energy capacity to our electrical matrix," the statement said.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a strong proponent of fossil fuels, has discouraged private and foreign investment in renewable energy, prioritizing instead state utility CFE, which produces most of its energy from fossil fuels, including natural gas and highly-contaminating fuel oil. (Reporting by Adriana Barrera; Editing by Tom Hogue)