The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ordered Poland to pay a $580,000 fine every day operations continue at the Turów lignite coal mine, located near the Czech Republic border. The fine comes after Poland and PGE, the state-owned utility that owns the mine, failed to comply with a May 21 order to shut down mining operations (Bloomberg). 

The orders were spurred by the Czech Republic, which took the case to the CJEU over environmental concerns, including groundwater drainage and noise and air pollution from the mine. The Czech Republic, along with Germany, has long been concerned about environmental harms from the mine, which was opened in 1904 (The Guardian). However, in April, the mine’s permit was extended from 2026 to 2044, and PGE recently announced plans to extend the digging area for the open-pit mine closer to the Czech Republic border (CNN). 

Poland and the Czech Republic have been in talks since June to reach an amicable resolution. The recent fine could put pressure on Poland to reach an agreement (Reuters). However, while the Czech Republic says the mine is causing damage to its communities, Poland argues shutting down the mine and the power plant it fuels would pose a risk to the country’s energy security. PGE says the mine powers 2.3 million Polish households, and that half of the jobs in the region depend on the mine.

Poland is a coal-intensive economy, using coal for 70% or more of its power. However, the country will decrease its dependency on coal over the next 20 years as it transitions to other energy sources, including offshore wind and nuclear power (Bloomberg).