Manipulations by Green Government Officials Hastened Shutdown of Nuclear Power in Germany

It has been revealed that officials in the Green Party-led German Economy Ministry intentionally ignored and falsified expert opinions to suppress the support for extending the lifetime of the last three nuclear power plants (NPP) operating in Germany. At the time, faced with the prospect of severe power shortages after the German government abruptly decreed an end to imports of Russian natural gas in February 2022 as a result of the Ukraine war, an intense public debate emerged as to whether the NPPs should remain in service beyond the final exit date scheduled for the end of the year.

The German magazine Cicero, after obtaining the secret files of the German government via a court order, reviews that debate in an April 25 article and podcast. Journalist Daniel Gräber points to the key role played by Patrick Graichen and Stefan Tidow, then Undersecretaries at the Economy and Environment Ministries respectively, in the effort to portray as “dangerous” the extended operation of the NPPs – in spite of expert reports to the contrary.

According to the leaked files, an original report dated March 2022 made clear out that with starkly diminishing Russian gas imports, an “extension of the nuclear power plants’ operational life” would have alleviated the dire situation in Germany’s energy sector that hit both the corporate sector and private households, and would have prevented prices from skyrocketing in autumn and winter of 2022.

These Green higher-ups, however, rewrote the expert report to convey the false message that the extension of the remaining NPPs “is not tenable on safety grounds”. As it turned out, in the midst of this heated debate, Chancellor Olaf Scholz did decide to let the three NPPs operate for three months longer. Their final shutdown, in April 2023, reduced Germany’s daily electricity supply by 6% overnight.

According to the Cicero article, Economy Minister Robert Habeck (of the Greens) most likely only saw the reworked version of the report, not the original. Regardless of whether or not he was a main culprit in this affair, the falsified report served Habeck’s firm intention to get rid of nuclear power and go for a renewables-only future as the only country to do so in all of Europe.

As a result of the Cicero exposé, the CDU is demanding a parliamentary investigative committee. Should the government majority block it, the party will take the case to the Constitutional Court. In the meantime, the revelations should be a wake-up call for the pro-nuclear current in German politics to mobilize for the construction of new NPPs, as well as the re-opening of the last three shut down.

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