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Lignite Mining Project Ignites Controversy

  • February 12, 2023


January 10th, 2023: Police have been given the clearance to evict residents in the village of
Lutzerath. Six thousand protesters, many not from Lutzerath, came in support of the small town. But, what would call for such measures?

This unrest among protesters is due to the fact that the German government is strip mining
Germany’s mountains to make way for a lignite mine, lignite being considered one of the dirtiest coals to be mined and burned for fuel, producing 20% of Germany’s pollution.

There is no such thing as “clean coal”.

Environmentalists have pushed back on the German government to stop coal burning, and above all, the excavation of mountains to help create more mines. Excavation is a form of mining, and despite how effective it is for collecting raw resources it is known for its destructive way of doing so. Ravaging thousands of acres of habitats, uprooting trees that prevent landslides and flooding, polluting water, and pushing residents out of their homes. This is not the first time residents of Lutzerath have been pushed out of their homes, in fact many of the residents currently living in the small town have taken over the abandoned houses from the previous owners who were evicted from their homes in 2017 for a prior mining project.

Greta Thunberg, a known respected activist, was on scene during the protests. She was detained
soon after for a short amount of time. “Yesterday I was part of a group that peacefully protested
the expansion of a coal mine in Germany. We were kettled by police and then detained but were
let go later that evening,..Climate protection is not a crime."

From the German government's viewpoint, the reasoning for the uptick in mining lies in the
Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant incident. This disaster occurred after a tsunami in the
Fukushima prefecture of Japan, where it momentarily caused an error in the cooling system
leading to a nuclear meltdown and an explosion. Only one person died due to this incident, and
Germany made plans to assure a similar nuclear tragedy would not occur by shutting down 8
German nuclear plants soon after. Thus far, this change in direction caused minimal problems.
Germany was getting fuel, such as natural gas, from Russia.

Nuclear energy has been one of the biggest and cleanest sources of energy so far, avoiding 417
million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2020 according to the U.S. Department of
Energy. With 8 sources of energy closed, gas was a safe and reliable option.

Flash forward to the year 2022, and Russia could off the supply of gas to Germany. Leaving
Germany with one other option: Coal.

In the end, whether the fear of a nuclear meltdown is unfounded or not is up to citizens to
decide. Coal is just not an environmentally sound source of energy - lignite or not - and many are ready to speak up.


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