EU court asks Poland to stop lignite mine at Czech border

The highest court in the European Union on Friday ordered Poland to immediately stop lignite mining at the Turow mine, on the border with the Czech Republic and Germany.

The Czech Republic filed an injunction in March, claiming that the open-pit lignite mine in Poland drains groundwater from populated areas and has other negative effects on Czech residents.

The decision of the EU Court of Justice is a temporary measure pending the final judgment of the Court on the Prague complaint.

Poland is heavily dependent on coal and has opposed the move, which has been welcomed by environmental activists.

“This decision is a welcome reprieve for those on the front lines of this crisis, who have been forced to live with the mine engulfing their drinking water and undermining their homes,” said Kathrin Gutmann, campaign manager of the Europe Beyond Coal group. .

“The message for polluters like PGE is clear: the rules are the same for everyone, and they are there to protect everyone. “

In January, the German town of Zittau, just across the border from Turow, also took Poland to EU court, claiming the mine was harming the town and draining groundwater.

Polish state energy group PGE, which operates the lignite mine, says the mine must continue operating for years to enable Poland to phase out black coal in line with European Union climate policies.

He said on Twitter that the court ruling was a path to an uncontrolled “wild” transition to green energy that threatens unanticipated loss of jobs and livelihoods.

Planning to stick with coal mining beyond 2030 will mean that the Polish region around Turow will miss EU funds for the so-called just transition which is economically helping localities turning away from it. coal production.

This would thwart Poland’s hopes of being the biggest beneficiary of the € 17.5 billion transition fund.

Black coal represents more than 48% of Poland’s energy production, compared to less than 17% for lignite. Turow also owns a lignite-fired power station.

The Czech government filed a complaint after failing to find a solution in talks with Poland on the matter, but said the dialogue would continue.

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