Sunday, 18 March 2012

Poles are tired of being lectured by Germany on nuclear power and shale gas

The Poles are - justifiedly - tired of lectures from an increasingly eco-fundamentalist Germany. German decision makers are intensifying their campaign against Poland´s plans to build nuclear power plants and to develop its shale gas resources:

Poland's nuclear dream is practically destined to cause friction with its neighbor to the west. Rarely in the last 1,000 years have Poland and Germany been on such good terms as they are today. But in response to Poland's decision to build nuclear power plants, lawmakers of all political stripes in the state parliaments of the eastern German states of Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (both of which border Poland), as well as in the city-state of Berlin, have passed motions appealing to the Poles to follow Germany's lead and do without nuclear energy.
"If someone doesn't want to build nuclear power plants, that's their problem," says Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. Last week, Economics Minister Waldemar Pawlak told the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that the decision had already been made. The state-owned energy company PGE is expected to build two reactors, and one of them will most likely be in Mayor Krzemiski's jurisdiction, on Lake Zarnowiec.

The disagreement over nuclear power isn't the only energy dispute that pits Polish producers against German politicians. They are also at odds over shale gas discoveries. Geologists have found enormous natural gas reserves locked into the rock deep underneath the hilly, forested landscapes of Pomerania and Kashubia in northwestern Poland. Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski already envisions his country as the Norway of Eastern Europe.
Many Poles fear that despite their tremendous economic successes, the Germans will continue to treat them as backward country bumpkins who are proving to be obstinate on the subject of nuclear energy.
The Poles become especially irate when the Germans and the Russians join forces, as they did almost seven years ago, when Berlin and Moscow agreed to build a natural gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea, bypassing Poland.

Then-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder didn't even feel it was necessary to consult Warsaw. For many Poles, the notion that Germans now want to prevent them from developing their own natural gas reserves is the height of audacity.

But, once again, it is primarily German environmentalists who are curbing the euphoria over the natural gas find. Jo Leinen, a member of the European Parliament for the center-left Social Democrats and an environmental expert, is calling for tighter regulation of the special process used to extract the natural gas, known as fracking.
Poland currently buys two thirds of its natural gas from the state-owned Russian gas company Gazprom, which charges Russia's former ally higher prices than its business partners in the West. Warsaw currently pays Russia $500 (€375) for 1,000 cubic meters of gas, while the rest of Europe pays only $300. Poland has filed a lawsuit against Russia in an international court of arbitration in Stockholm.

Read the entire Der Spiegel article here

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