Environmental lawyers have today applied to intervene in a legal case, to ensure coal plants cannot continue to pollute at dangerous levels.
Industry group Euracoal has led an attempt to undermine hard-won EU pollution standards for combustion plants with a legal challenge against the European Commission, supported by several German coal companies. Today ClientEarth launched a bid to intervene on the side of the Commission.
ClientEarth energy lawyer Sam Bright said: “This is a shameless attempt to quash laws that aim to protect people. These laws underwent extensive review by governments and industry and were years late in being agreed – with people’s health and the climate being jeopardised all the while.
“Euracoal is seeking a licence to pollute for its members, swimming against the current of a cleaner energy era that does not revolve around fleets of heavily polluting power plants.
“We are fighting to make sure health and climate remain the priorities. The focus now needs to be on making sure governments are rigorously enforcing these standards, which are already long overdue. The last thing we need is for them to be unpicked.”
Poland and Bulgaria, both heavy coal users with well-documented pollution issues, have also brought legal action against the Commission to overturn the new rules. But EU court rules mean ClientEarth was not able to intervene.
Bright added: “The only parties attempting to rail against these new, better, healthier standards are those with a considerable vested interest. The health of people and the environment must always remain the priority. Defending dangerous pollution to protect business interests is inexcusable.”
These challenges to the new pollution laws, if successful, would set the whole process back to square one, leaving people all over Europe exposed to dangerous pollution for years to come.
Brussels-based environmental group the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) have today also submitted an application to intervene.
Permission to intervene in the case would mean ClientEarth and EEB can separately submit detailed legal arguments to counter those put forward by Euracoal and others, for consideration in the case.