Dispute Over a Coal Trade Pits Poland Towards Its Neighbors

However, this won’t solve a major problem. A sudden withdrawal from coal, feared by many in Poland, will put the country in the position of Germany, which is heavily dependent on natural gas imports from Russia.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said this month that the government will not allow the Bogatynia mine to close because “it could jeopardize Poland’s energy security”.

More important, however, are the domestic political risks of a swift move away from coal.

During a visit to Bogatynia prior to Poland’s election as president last year, incumbent Andrzej Duda said that miners had done Poland “a great service” and that they would not be given up. The city’s voters supported him in the elections and helped him win.

Andrzej Grzegorowski, union leader at the power station next to the Turow mine, said he voted for Mr Duda because “he has high hopes for the future of coal”. However, whether he will vote again for Mr Duda’s ruling Law and Justice Party will depend on whether they keep the mine open, he added.

Fearful of fighting the miners, a shrinking but well-organized and vocal constituency, Polish politicians have long struggled to balance demand for green energy from Brussels with voter demand for jobs.

“Everyone in my family has always been connected to the mine here,” said Bogumił Tyszkiewicz, union leader at the Turow mine. His two brothers, two brothers-in-law and his sister work for the Polish Energy Group (PGE), a state-owned company that operates the mine and the adjacent power plant. Only his son, who has found work for a green electricity company in another city, does not depend on the mine for a living.

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