Cablegate: Baden-Wuerttemberg Blocks Windmills, Proposes

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. SUMMARY: The state of Baden-Wuerttemberg (B-W) has
blocked a windmill park near Freiburg and proposed
extending the life of nuclear reactors, fueling a political
battle with broader implications. The CDU-FDP (Christian
Democrat / Free Democrat) B-W government favors reopening
debate on the phase-out of nuclear energy and even hints at
building a new reactor. Economics Minister Walter Doering
(FDP) argues that since nuclear power provides 60 percent
of the state's needs, B-W cannot compensate with
alternative energy sources. Opposition Social Democrats
(SPD) and Greens accuse CDU/FDP of favoring nuclear over
alternative energy. Neither side shows any sign of backing

2. In recent months, the B-W state government has fought
the construction of a windmill park near Freiburg.
Minister-President Erwin Teufel (CDU) intervened to block
the project after the city and administrative district had
already issued building permits. Teufel and other CDU/FDP
politicians argue that the windmills would be an expensive
eyesore in a picturesque region. The city of Freiburg
under Lord Mayor Dieter Salomon (Greens) is suing to
continue the project.

3. The conservative leadership of B-W opposes the 2001
consensus on phasing out nuclear power. In October, the
Teufel administration announced that B-W and Bavaria will
sue the federal government over the costly phase-out and
raise the issue in the Bundesrat. Leading CDU politicians,
including caucus chief Guenther Oettinger (Teufel's heir
apparent), have floated the idea of constructing a new
nuclear power plant.

4. Pol-Econ rep attended a special B-W parliament debate
on energy issues led by the opposition SPD and Greens.
Winfried Kretschmann (B-W Greens caucus head) and Wolfgang
Drexler (SPD caucus leader) attacked M-P Teufel for
undermining alternative energy, calling it the only growing
energy sector in Germany and one especially important for
small and medium-sized companies. The SPD and Greens argue
that the windmill debacle will deter the private investment
which B-W badly needs to renew and expand energy

5. Echoing points made by many in the German power
industry, Economics Minister Doering said Germany must stop
the "proliferation" of "over-subsidized" windmill parks and
criticized the Greens for politicizing nuclear power. With
60 percent reliance on nuclear energy (the highest among
German states), Baden-Wuerttemberg must, at a minimum,
extend the lifetime of existing reactors (Doering denied
there are concrete plans to build a new reactor). "We need
an exit from the exit" is Doering's plea for a new strategy
on nuclear power which at a minimum would extend the life
of current nuclear plants. The B-W Minister for
Environment and Transportation, Ulrich Mueller (CDU),
claims there are no environmentally responsible
alternatives to nuclear power: with only seven percent of
its supply from alternative energy (perhaps 15 percent in
ten years), B-W cannot phase out nuclear power without
using much more oil, coal or natural gas. According to
Mueller, the national government has dodged the question of
"what comes after" nuclear power. Mueller predicted
replacing nuclear power through fossil energy sources would
increase CO2 emissions in B-W by fifty percent.

6. COMMENT: The battle over nuclear and alternative
energies in B-W shows no sign of abating. B-W is the most
dependent on nuclear power among German states (although it
imports and exports electricity like any other part of
Western Europe). CDU and FDP reps in the southwest now
openly oppose the phase-out as unfeasible and bad for
climate change, while criticizing alternative energy as
uneconomical and unsightly. For their part, opposition
Greens and SPD would like to tar the CDU/FDP government as
pro-nuclear and anti-environment. Neither side has the
lead in this fight, but it is already evident that energy
issues will play a role in European/communal elections in
B-W in June 2004. END COMMENT.


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