Poland defies EU court ruling to shut down major lignite mine | national news
WARSAW, Poland (AP) – The Polish government defied an injunction from the EU’s highest court on Monday that ordered the immediate closure of a major lignite mine, officials saying it would shake up the country’s energy system and would result in the dismissal of thousands of employees.
Development Minister Jaroslaw Gowin said Poland would not close the Turow lignite mine on the border with Germany and the Czech Republic, but rather was engaged in “very diplomatic and legal efforts. intensive ”to ensure the uninterrupted operation of the mine and connected power plant that produces around 7% of Poland’s energy.
The EU Court of Justice on Friday ordered Poland to immediately halt exploitation of the mine, taking into account complaints from Prague that it was draining groundwater from Czech territory and that Poland had recently extended its permit without proper prior environmental assessment. It is a temporary measure, pending the full court ruling.
Gowin said he viewed the court ruling as “shockingly out of proportion” to the situation and which would lead to “the loss of tens of thousands of jobs and very serious disruption to the Polish energy system”, cutting off the power. to millions of homes.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki was holding an emergency meeting with leaders of the national energy company PGE, which runs the mine and factory, and regional authorities in Wroclaw, in the southwest.
He later said that Poland would engage in negotiations with Prague and also make new points in the EU court to clearly describe the situation in order to avoid a “catastrophe”.
The court ruling is “very dangerous from the point of view of potential threats to the environment, but it is also dangerous for Poland’s energy security and for the jobs of some 5,000 people” working in Turow.
He noted that the Czech Republic and Germany operated lignite mines and power plants near the borders of Poland.
In an effort to keep up with the EU’s ambitious carbon dioxide reduction targets, Poland is phasing out black coal, but still relies on lignite. A recent energy plan says the last coal mine will be closed by 2049, but critics say it will happen sooner because coal mining in Poland is inefficient and incurs huge costs.
Government officials say they have been in talks with Prague over the Turow mine for years and believe a deal has been reached. Critics and the opposition say it hasn’t done enough, but everyone in Poland agrees that shutting down the mine and power plant is not possible.
A blackout last week at another PGE lignite-fired power plant in Belchatow was felt across Europe’s electricity grid and forced operators to scramble to make up for lost power.
The head of the Polish PES electricity grid, Eryk Klossowski, told a meeting of the parliamentary group on energy security that it would not be acceptable for the grid to lose Turow’s contribution. He said the plant is connected to an electricity transmission station which is essential for the southwest region and for interconnection with East Germany.
PGE deputy director Pawel Sliwa told an emergency parliamentary committee meeting that closing the mine would also mean shutting down the power plant it powers. He estimated the costs at around 13.5 billion zlotys ($ 3.6 billion or 3 billion euros), the layoff of thousands of employees and the loss of investment in filters and other upgrades favorable to the l ‘environment.
Coal accounts for 65% of Poland’s energy sources, of which 17% is lignite, while around 25% of the country’s energy comes from renewable sources. Poland’s heavy dependence on coal is a source of tension in the EU27, which is seeking to meet ambitious targets for reducing the bloc’s greenhouse gas emissions.
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