While the U.S. Congress has trouble even keeping the lights on, the pace of change in Mexico under the Presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto has surprised even the most optimistic observers.

On August 12th Peña Nieto submitted to Congress a bill that would end the state’s 75-year energy monopoly. Bloomberg reports that Peña Nieto’s plan would allow private companies such as Exxon Mobil and Chevron to pump crude for the first time since 1938 by changing articles 27 and 28 of the constitution. According to Enrique Ochoa, Deputy Energy Minster, the proposed bill would enable companies that invest in Pemex to receive a portion of profits. The bill would also allow more private participation in electricity generation in an attempt to reduce prices that are estimated to be around 25 percent higher than in the United States.

That’s a big deal. Mexico sits on huge reservoirs of oil and gas but needs a lot of investment and foreign expertise to find it and get it out of the ground. Oil has been a touchy political issue in Mexico, where the state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) and the oil that lies beneath Mexican soil and sea, are seen as part of national heritage. March 18th, the day in 1938 when President Lazaro Cardenas nationalized the oil industry and seized fields from U.S. and British companies is a national holiday.

via Why President Enrique Peña Nieto Is Changing Mexico With Energy Reform – ABC News.