Making the Polluter Pay for Environmental Damages in Central and East Germany

Types: Letter
Published: 4 October 2022
Size: 214.40 KB

This document is also available in German.

Germany’s plan to offer a generous 4,35 billion euro compensation package for closing lignite mines and power plants is a hot topic even in the EU. 1,75 billion euro of this package goes to the Lusatian mining company LEAG and a large part of it is assigned for environmental remediation.

As this case illustrates, taxpayers risk to bear the cost for environmental remediation after they have already paid a high price for the pollution caused by LEAG in the region, where water sources have been polluted and depleted.

Germany’s proposal is currently discussed at the EU level where the review of the Environmental Liability Directive (ELD) is also on the agenda. The ELD is very much linked to the issue of polluters’ liability and the failure of authorities to include the ‘polluters pay principle’ in the environmental remediation plans once corporations responsible for massive pollution, such as LEAG, close shop.

While Germany and the EU are working hard to bring the era of “dirty energy” to an end, the coal industry continues to generate electricity at the expense of people’s health and the environment, as the case in Lusatia demonstrates.

This letter, sent to the state governments of Saxony, Saxony Anhalt and Brandenburg, calls for:

● Ensure a transparent process to facilitate an independent assessment of remediation costs of post mining remediations.

● Collect from LEAG and MIBRAG the full cost of the present environmental damages and future liabilities of the mines operated by these companies before offering them any financial compensations for their closure.

● Amend the water regulations of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg and include water fees for lignite mine drainage in proportion to the cost of the damages.

● Set up a public water management portal at a federal level, where water abstraction and discharge of all individual facilities (ideally digital reporting directly to European industrial emissions portal ), water quality monitoring data of water bodies 17 (based on water body codes under WFD) are easily available.

Making the Polluter Pay for Environmental Damages in Central and East Germany
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