Moving away from coal energy pays off for everyone and is indispensable. The sooner both state and local government understand it, the more favorable the effects of transformation will be for inhabitants of the region Turoszów. Faster shift from lignite reduces CO2 emissions, minimizes electricity prices and reduces imports. The transition of the Turoszów region will also allow to ease the conflict with the Czech Republic which due to Turow's operations, deals with access to drinking water.
The deadline for considering the petition on the danger of drinking water loss in the Liberec region connected with the expansion of the lignite mine in Turów has been set. Committee on Petitions of the European Parliament will meet on this matter on July 14th.
Last week, we also wrote about the possibility for the committee to consider at the same meeting a petition written by Polish local government officials who were against closing open pit mine and Turów power plant in Bogatynia. It will not be taken into account equally during the July meeting. It was not submitted in accordance with the procedures to the President of the Petitions Committee of the EP, but to the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.
On July 24th, the Environment Committee in the Czech Parliament was again dealing with the impact of the Turów mine on water in the Czech border "Poland, which allowed mining for another six years and is also seeking to further extend the license, does not communicate with the Czech side on this case," reports the Czech portal Lidovky.
This is one of the reasons why the commission asked the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the last hearing to examine the possibility of filing a complaint against Poland to the European Court of Justice for violating EU law.
"I am glad that today the commission has called on the government and relevant ministries to take steps to file a complaint with the European Court of Justice. The Commission is also asking the Ministry of the Environment and the Liberec region to estimate by the end of September this year the costs of repairing the damage that Poland has already caused in the Czech Republic, as well as the costs of future activities” - MP Dana Balcarová, chairwoman of the Environment Committee” commented.
From a legal point of view, pursuant to Article 259 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the Czechs cannot yet sue Poland for actions related to Turow. "Before a Member State brings an action against another Member State for an alleged infringement of an obligation under the Treaties, it shall bring the matter before the Commission. The Commission shall deliver a reasoned opinion after each of the States concerned has been given the opportunity to submit its own case and its observations on the other party's case both orally and in writing. If the Commission has not delivered an opinion within three months of the date on which the matter was brought before it, the absence of such opinion shall not prevent the matter from being brought before the Court”.
"If the Commission considers that a Member State has failed to fulfil an obligation under the Treaties, it shall deliver a reasoned opinion on the matter after giving the State concerned the opportunity to submit its observations. If the State concerned does not comply with the opinion within the period laid down by the Commission, the latter may bring the matter before the Court of Justice of the European Union".
Leaving lignite is inevitable. It is also profitable for countries where this fuel plays the largest role - Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic. “Forum Energii” and “Agora Energiewende” have prepared an analysis in which they calculated the costs of abandoning the energy sector powered by this dirty fuel.
The report shows that the abandonment of lignite will reduce CO2 emissions from electricity in Poland by 47% in 2030 (compared to 2020), and in the region by nearly half.
A faster shift from lignite (compared to the reference scenario, i.e. around 2035-2038), minimizes price increase, reduces electricity imports and will not increase transformation costs.
This is very important news for the entire cross-border region "This project may become the flagship project of the European Green Deal, a symbol of good regional cooperation for energy security, but we need coordinated action and cooperation between Warsaw, Berlin and Prague" - comments Joanna Maćkowiak-Pandera from the „Forum Energii”.
Instead of fighting to extend the mine's operations until 2044, local authorities in Bogatynia and Polish PGE should consider a wise transformation that will bring health, environmental and economic benefits to all residents of the Turoszów region and their neighbors.
On June 26th, 2020, the Annual General Meeting of the Polish Energy Group (PGE) was held. A shareholder of PGE and at the same time a Financial Campaigner of the Foundation "Development YES – Open pit mines NO", Kuba Gogolewski took part in it. He demanded that the company's authorities take decisive actions to secure the health and life of all Polish people. He asked the authorities a number of questions about Turow and lignite. None of these questions were answered at the meeting. The company's management now has 14 days (until July 10th) to send their responses in writing.
Questions asked by the shareholder regarding Turów:
1. President of PGE S.A. announced its intention to publish a new strategy of the GK PGE in the autumn of this year. PGE's strategy was to be initially ready by autumn 2019. What caused the annual delay in adopting the new PGE strategy? Will the new strategy include a detailed plan for the GK PGE to achieve greenhouse gas emission neutrality (mainly carbon dioxide) by 2050 along with the trajectory for reaching that emission neutrality and estimated CO2 emissions in 2025, 2030, 2035, 2040 and 2045?
2. Over the past 5 years, the Company, implementing the current strategy, has lost approx. 60% of its value. Will the new strategy, which will be announced by PGE, assume a shift from coal to 2030, dynamic development of renewable energy sources and fair transformation, taking into account global development trends, EU climate policy and the will of Polish people wanting to move away from coal in Poland by 2030?
3. PGE obtained a decision to extend the mining license for the Turów open pit mine by 6 years. At the same time, the new unit at Turów power plant is still under construction, which involves significant investments. The new block in Turów also secured a power contract for 15 years. How does PGE intend to convince the European Commission to obtain the necessary derogation from the objectives of the Water Framework Directive after 2027, without which the further operations of the Turów open pit and Turów power plant will not be possible?
4. When will PGE publicly announce the dates of shutting down coal blocks in commercial power plants and combined heat and power plants belonging to PGE in addition to those announced in the management report for 2019?
5. The Czechs indicate that as a result of continuing lignite extraction from the Turów open pit until 2044, thousands of Czech residents will be deprived of drinking water sources. Is the management board of PGE considering establishing a reserve to pay compensation to the Czechs for this reason?
6. Is PGE intending to lead to the destruction of the historic Opolno-Zdrój rural system due to the planned lignite mining up to 2044 from the Turów open pit by 2044, or does PGE want to continue the plan expressed by the Mine authorities during the administrative hearing regarding the environmental decision for the open pit Turów in September 2019 and move the monuments of that former resort to another place? Does the management board of PGE think that it would be in the public interest (by 1-2%) to reduce the surface of the open pit and to preserve the unique former resort of Bad-Oppelsdorf (Opolno-Zdrój)?
7. In the report of the PGE management board on the activities of 2019, the company's management board announced activities aimed at obtaining a mining license until 2044 for the Turów open pit mine. Is the GK PGE still intending to obtain a mining license for the Turów open pit until 2044, or is the extension of the license for six years more favorable to the GK PGE and the company's shareholders in the opinion of the management board?