Prague, Czech Republic – Today the Minister of Environment, Mrs Rut Bizkova, began her transformation of the Ministry of Environment by terminating the Department of Climate and Air Protection and firing a Deputy Minister who was critical of plans to expand the Prunerov brown coal-fired power plant. Environmental organizations considered today’s announcement by the Ministry, which was responsible for climate policy, to be an unnecessary capitulation to the state energy monopoly, CEZ, which runs the power plant. It further shows Minister Bizkova’s determination to force through approval of her former employer’s expansion plans for Prunerov despite the harmful environmental and climate impacts of the coal plant.
Jan Rovensky of Greenpeace said, “It is no secret that Deputy Minister Kutak and his department were the main critics of the Ministry's intention to use outdated and inefficient technology at Prunerov. Bizkova used the easiest but least dignified way to deal with resistance, by silencing dissenters. The next step of such a “noble” Minister might well be to review employee loyalty to the Ministry of CEZ.”
The Federated States of Micronesia requested a transboundary environmental impact assessment of CEZ’s plans and called for disapproval of the proposal if the best available technology (BAT) is not employed (1). An independent assessment by international group Det Norske Veritas (DNV) concluded that the proposal shows deviations from BAT with insufficiently explored technical grounds (2).
Under heavy pressure from CEZ and the Prime Minister to approve the plan regardless of DNV’s criticism, the former Minister of Environment, Mr Jan Dusik, chose to resign rather than cave in (3).
Vojtech Kotecky of Friends of the Earth said, "The former Minister of Environment was the only member of the government who stood up and opposed the plans of CEZ. To disperse the relevant section of the Ministry in order to force through approval of a single coal power plant is, to put it mildly, unwise."
Criticism of CEZ and the unhealthy influence the corporation exerts on Czech climate and environmental policy has recently been headline news in many countries (4). Today’s termination of the Czech climate department is likely to please CEZ and others whom are looking to weaken anti-pollution legislation and undermine climate negotiations to reduce emissions of greenhouse gas.
There is now the danger of the Czech Republic joining Poland in obstructing moves towards progressive European climate policy ahead of the June Environment Council meeting, at which an upgrade of the EU international climate policy after the Copenhagen fiasco is expected. However, while in Poland it was only possible to give a former industry lobbyist a position at the head of their climate unit, in the Czech Republic dirty industry managed to get the seat of a minister.
"It is hard to believe that Minister Bizkova so openly confirmed speculation about her affection for her former employer. Who else would profit from the abolition of the Department of Climate and Air Protection other than CEZ? Today's step is the latest interference by CEZ in the Prunerov EIA and the expected final decision can hardly be considered lawful”, said Jan Srytr, a lawyer at the Environmental Law Service.
Jan Rovensky, Greenpeace, mob.: 723 623 238, email
Ben Jasper, Greenpeace, mob.: 608 725 721, email:
Vojtěch Kotecký, Friends of the Earth, mob.: 604 202 470, email
Jan Šrytr, Environmental Law Service, mob.: 775 154 087, email
Notes to the editor
(1) Pacific islanders bid to stop Czech coal plant
A Pacific Island Challenge to European Air Pollution
(2) Ministry of Environment Press Release
DNV Press Release
(3) Czech minister quits over controversial power plant http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/LDE62H22D.htm
(4) A mighty Czech power company runs into criticism
CEZ Looks to Home as Challenges Pile Up