The Minister of Environment and Climate, Michał Kurtyka, granted a mining license for Turów opencast until 2044. PGE and Turów employees are celebrating their success. Unfortunately, they don't notice that it's a like a ball on Titanic. Without EU transition funds, the whole Zgorzelec region will drown. And without a coal phase-out date, aligned with the European climate goals, there will be no funds from Just Transition Fund. The position of the European Commission in this case is clear.
On April, 29, The Minister of Environment and Climate, Michał Kurtyka, granted a mining license for Turów opencast until 2044, despite the fact that the previous license will be valid for another 5 years. Additionally, PGE, which has been applying for it, is planing to transfer its coal assets, including the Turów one, to NABE [National Agency for Energy Security].
“The decision allows to continue mining of the fossil, and in consequence further activity of the power plant, which provides a few percent of the national electric energy, which also means that it corresponds to the public interest” – we read in the ministerial release.
In the meantime, the chance that the mine will be really working until 2044 is close to zero. The fate of the Turów power station and opencast depend, among others, on the rate of the growth of ETS allowance prices. EC also has to grant a permit to create NABE and to transfer the power plant and the mine to this institution. What is more, what is also necessary is a permission from financial institutions owning PGE obligations to convert PGE's debt in the formula proposed by the government.
The future of Turów power complex will also be resolved by the sentence of the European Court of Justice about the claim presented against Poland by the Czech Republic, regarding the previous license.
In Czechia, the decision regarding Turów was described as “disappointing”.
— The decision is related to the actions that haven't been and are not compliant with the EU law. That is why, the European Court of Justice will settle them, as per the lawsuit presented by the Czech Republic — Martin Puta, president of the Liberec region comments. — I believe that the infraction of the EU laws won't be neglected and that the Polish investor won't be ignoring founded claims from the Czech population residing near the mine.
— Damages produced not only on our ground caused by present activity of the mine are incontrovertible and documented. It worries us that the Polish side is still acting in such an irresponsible manner, instead of using the EU money to convert into green energy. In this way damages in the environment would be avoided for the sake of life quality for everyone, including Polish employees — Václav Židek said, member of the regional council responsible for the environment, agriculture and rural development — Even in the Polish social media almost half of the people is demanding that the coal extraction in the region be stopped. They see the sustainable energy as a new chance for the economy.
A day after the decision regarding the extenssion of the mining licese for the Turów opencast until 2044, 38 MEPs sent a letter to vice president of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans and to the Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius. The appealed for specific measures to be taken in order to protect the European Green Deal — just after the climate law has been adopted, and the European environmental law, which, in their opinion, has been breached by the activity of the open-pit mine.
The same day, a letter to Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, vice president of the EC and Virginijus Sinkevičius, the Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries was sent. Their demands were identical to the demands of the MEPs.
In order to draw media attention and that of the Commission, EEB employees, as well as German and Czech MEPs, Anna Cavazzini and Mikuláš Peksa, gave the European Commission a birthday cake, baked “to celebrate the 1st anniversary of illegal mining in Turów”.
“We wanted to remind the European Commission about its responsibility for EU law execution and for putting an end to illegal coal mining in Turów” - EEB informs.
The decision about Turów was preceded by an aggressive PGE campaign titled “Green Deal and not wild transformation” led by European media. A series of sponsored articles was bought in the Polish and foreign press, and billboards appeared in Brussels. On its website the company explains that this way they want to draw the attention of the politicians in Brussels.
The problem is that the information given in the campaign is false. They mislead both the politicians and the public opinion. More information about PGE manipulation may be found at:
NGOs have been warning everybody for a long time that an obstinate holding on to further coal mining in Turów will mean that the region will be cut off from the EU subsidies. European Commission confirms that.
“Poland’s plan to extend the life of a coal mine in Turow until 2044 could mean the region will not get access to the European Union’s flagship green transition fund” Reuters informed on May, 3th. -
“On Monday the European Commission said the Polish government’s decision to extend a mining concession for the Turow coal mine, located near the Czech and German borders could cost the region its access to the JTF”.
CE spokesperson, Vivian Loonela said that the decision “is surely a threat to the use of Just Transition Fund for the support of the region, which, it is clear, isn't planning any transformation until 2030”.
— Unfortunately, the exclusion from the fund will be most noticeable to the residents — said a CE employee in an interview with Karolina Kijek from Gazeta Wyborcza. — It could happen only because those in power decide to protect the interests of the polluting industry, which is falling anyway and isn't profitable anymore.
— Patriotic carbon enhancement is irresponsible as well. Trade unions and politicians create a real risk that the loss in CJEU or highly probable worsening of the economic conditions for lignite in the years to come will lead to the fall of the “Turów fortress” without any safety cushions in form of an alternative development plan for the region and without access to EU funds — says Radosław Gawlik, president of EKO-UNIA foundation.