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EU court fines Poland 500,000 euros daily until mine closes

EU court fines Poland 500,000 euros daily until mine closes

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The European Union’s top court on Monday ordered Poland to pay a daily fine of 500,000 euros ($586,000) until it complies with an earlier ruling to shut down a lignite mine near the border with the Czech Republic and Germany.

The Court of Justice of the European Union said the daily fine was necessary to get Poland to comply with the court’s temporary injunction in May that called for the immediate closure of the Turow mine, in the southwest.

Poland has refused to close the mine, arguing it supplies the key Turow power plant that generates around 7% of the country's energy supply.

The Polish government tried, but has so far failed to settle the dispute out of court in talks with Czech authorities who had sought the closure order. Prague had wanted the court to impose a 5 million euro ($6 million) daily fine on Poland.

The Czech government welcomed the decision, saying that the open-cast mine is draining water from Czech villages in the area and doing other harm to the local environment.

But Polish government spokesman Piotr Mueller said the fine is not commensurate with the circumstances and undermines efforts to achieve a settlement with Prague.

Mueller said in a statement that the mine won't close because that would “threaten the stability of Poland’s energy system” and would mean “enormous problems” in daily life.

Poland has also argued that it's being treated unfairly because the Czech Republic and Germany operate a number of lignite mines close to Poland’s borders.

Approximately 48% of Poland’s energy comes from hard black coal and 17% from softer and more polluting lignite, or brown coal. Another 25% comes from various renewable sources and biofuels, and 10% comes from gas and other sources.

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