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Environment

Greenpeace files suit against German economics ministry over delayed energy report

As the debate over the future of nuclear power in Germany heats up, Greenpeace is accusing the government of defying a law mandating the release of the next monitoring report on security of the country's energy supply.

A nuclear power plant in Biblis

Can Germany meet its future energy needs without nuclear power?

Greenpeace Germany took legal action Monday against the Federal Ministry of Economics for failing to release a report detailing key information on the country's future energy needs ahead of last month's deadline.

The complaint was lodged in a Berlin administrative court. Under Germany's Energy Industry Law (EnWG), the economics ministry is required to publish a monitoring report on the future of the country's energy supply every two years and present the information to the European Commission. The deadline for the 2010 report was July 31.

"To our surprise and disappointment, this report was not presented, and it was not submitted to the European Commission in Brussels," Greenpeace energy expert Tobias Münchmeyer told Deutsche Welle.

Anti-nuclear advocates form a human chain at a power plant in northern Germany

Germany's nuclear phase-out was set for 2022 by the last red-green government

The future of nuclear

The data contained in the report is expected to further clarify a subject of intense political debate in Germany: whether the country can meet its future electricity needs without nuclear power.

Germany's ruling coalition under Chancellor Angela Merkel supports extending the operating lives of nuclear reactors beyond the 2022 shut-down deadline passed by the previous Social Democrat-led government.

Münchmeyer said Greenpeace believed the ministry, led by Minister Rainer Brüderle, delayed the report's release "in order to manipulate the current debate on energy supply in Germany."

A statement from the German economics ministry blamed the hold-up on outside problems.

"Publication of the Federal Ministry of Economics Monitoring Report on the security of supply in the electrical industry is postponed until fall 2010, due to external assessment delays involving the preparation of energy scenarios for the German government's energy policy," a ministry spokesman told Deutsche Welle.

Ahead of government plans to craft a long-term energy strategy by the end of September, the economics ministry commissioned several institutions with developing different energy scenarios for the future.

Energy shortage?

Greenpeace activists protest nuclear power

Greenpeace has long campaigned against atomic energy

Yet according to a recent report in German newspaper Die Zeit, the ministry itself established a general framework for scientific assessment - and Münchmeyer said data was chosen in ways that would support the conclusion that nuclear extension plans would be "useful or positive for the German economy."

German utilities companies have warned that the country could face an electricity shortage if plans for a nuclear phase-out go through - a claim that Greenpeace, a long-term opponent of atomic power, disputes.

"The last report from 2008 has clearly shown that there is no risk of running a deficit in the electricity supply," Münchmeyer said, adding that the 2010 monitoring document would further support that point.

Author: Amanda Price
Editor: Anke Rasper

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