Anna Moskwa made the appeal at a news conference in eastern Poland on Monday, state news agency PAP reported.
The climate and environment minister was visiting the Bogdanka coal mine near the city of Lublin.
Moskwa met with the executives of the state-controlled coal mine and trade union leaders to discuss an upcoming update to Poland’s energy policy, according to officials.
At the news briefing afterwards, she was asked about the EU’s proposed new rules to reduce methane emissions in the energy sector.
Moskwa said: “This is a very important issue which is now being processed by the EU institutions.”
She added: “We expect the European Parliament’s committees to debate the proposed directive in April, after it was discussed by the EU energy ministers last year.”
'If all Polish MEPs vote together ... we will be able to block this document'
Moskwa told reporters that "the votes of Poland’s right-of-centre MEPs will not be sufficient to block" the proposed methane directive.
She added: “But if all Polish MEPs vote together, and engage in good dialogue with colleagues from other countries, we will be able to block this document.”
New EU methane emissions rules 'would damage Polish coal mining industry'
Under the proposed rules, from 2027 coal mines in the EU would be able to emit up to 5 tonnes of methane per 1,000 tonnes of coal mined, with the limit further reduced to 3 tonnes of methane per 1,000 tonnes of coal mined from 2031, according to officials.
Since Polish coal mines currently have higher methane emissions, averaging between 8 and 14 tonnes of methane per 1,000 tonnes of coal mined, they would be subject to steep fines for exceeding the emission limit, the PAP news agency reported.
The state-run Polish Mining Group (PGG) has estimated it would have to pay some PLN 1.5 billion (EUR 320 million) in fines every year, forcing it to close up to two-thirds of its coal mines already in 2027, officials said.
Moskwa told reporters on Monday that the proposed directive, if implemented, "would damage the whole Polish coal mining industry.”
She added: “It’s a failure to honour the social contract, a failure to honour the agreements that we have on the EU level. It ignores the voice of the whole sector and the many years that we have devoted to social dialogue.”
'Temporary increase in the production of coal'
Referring to planned changes to Poland’s energy policy, Moskwa said "the updated policy will focus on energy security" as well as "on adjusting energy measures to the principles of the social contract," in addition to "a temporary increase in the production of coal in the coming years, modernisation of coal-fired power plant units and an increased demand for energy.”
Moskwa said the Bogdanka coal mine would have “a key role to play” in the new energy policy.
By the end of July, the government plans to buy all shares in the exchange-listed, state-controlled coal mine, which has a workforce of over 5,000, the PAP news agency reported.
Source: PAP, i.pl, gov.pl, consilium.europa.eu