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The Legislative Changes Voted in by the Sejm on June 16, 2023: Their Anti-Social and Anti-Polish Consequences

26 lipca, 2023

The Legislative Changes Voted in by the Sejm on June 16, 2023: Their Anti-Social and Anti-Polish Consequences
Sejm RP. Foto: Verconer / shutterstock.com

The statement of Polish American organizations on the changes in the Polish Geological and Mining Law voted by the Sejm on June 16, 2023 (Sejm document No. 3238)

In response to the rejection by the Senate of the Republic of Poland of the Geological and Mining Law adopted by Sejm (Document No. 3238), which was sent to the Sejm for reconsideration, we would like to draw your attention to the highly negative, anti-social, and essentially anti-Polish consequences of the above-mentioned legislative changes voted in by the Sejm on June 16, 2023.

The changes voted in by the Sejm introduce "revolutionary" solutions that deny local governments the right to regulate economic development and construction activities in areas designated by non-transparent, external administrative decisions as areas containing "strategic" mineral deposits.

The proposed changes not only threaten the constitutionally guaranteed individual property rights and place significant restrictions on private property, leading to future expropriation and mass evictions of the rightful property owners, but also nullify the provisions of the Polish Constitution (Art. 16 par. 2, Art. 163, Art. 164 par. 3, Art. 165 par. 2, and Art. 166 par. 1), which squarely place local planning powers with local government.

Under the new law, local governments would be denied the right to question the decisions of central administrative bodies and the ability to appeal their decisions. These changes infringe on the prerogatives of local government, violate the broader socio-economic interests of local communities and Polish society at large, and undermine, in turn, the very foundations of the socio-economic and political order of the country.

The new law does not provide any compensation or future payment of dividends for property owners who lose their full ownership rights due to unappealable administrative decisions. Still, it transfers the right to conduct business activity on "expropriated" land to entities obtaining exploration and mining concessions issued by the Office of the Chief National Geologist. The absurdity of the solutions adopted by the Sejm becomes obvious when we realize that the areas containing deposits of potentially "strategic" character cover approximately two thirds of the country's territory.

The new legal provisions, after their final approval by the Sejm and the President of the Republic of Poland, would bring about the dominance of the economic interests of large, mostly foreign, corporations over the interests of individual owners, local communities, and national interests, not to mention matters such as protection of the natural environment and cultural heritage. Suppressing local economic activity with restrictions imposed on local construction and commercial development would result in a permanent devastating decline of real estate values and depopulation of areas affected by such decisions.

The Geological and Mining Law, in its current form voted in by the Sejm on June 16, 2023, tries to usurp the prerogatives and powers of local governments and transfer them to central administrative bodies. This is a veiled attack on individual property rights and the existing socio-economic and political system. The Chief National Geologist, an office within the Ministry of Climate and Environment, is endowed with administratively and legally unchallengeable decision-making monopoly rights, which give him the ability to decide unilaterally the future of municipalities and regions, as well as the fate of millions of its inhabitants without any personal responsibility for the economic, social and environmental consequences of his decisions. The Chief National Geologist receives unlimited decision-making power over the use of land and drinking water, access to resources, the spatial order of the country, building permits, and business activity over areas containing documented natural deposits, which cover about two thirds of Poland's territory. The non-transparent and potentially corrupt nature of the concession issuance process is probably already obvious to everyone.

The above issues also become particularly important in the context of the hotly debated underground storage, or so-called sequestration, of carbon dioxide (CO2). Such storage may lead to groundwater contamination and migration, landscape devastation, infrastructure destruction, and unimaginable ecological disasters resulting from either slow seepage or a single catastrophic eruption of sequestered gases to the surface - the above scenarios are quite likely considering the permeability of the rock masses, and the unpredictability of future seismic/tectonic events.

The changes voted in by the Sejm contradict the principle of sustainable socio-economic development and environmental protection and further exclude communities and society at large from the decision-making process. They also threaten and foreclose the potential future use of Poland's inexhaustible, clean geothermal energy.

Many Americans of Polish descent and Poles living in the United States hold Polish citizenship, own property in Poland, or conduct business in Poland. This law applies to them just as it does to Poles living in Poland.

We, the undersigned, appeal to you on behalf of our organizations and the Polish Americans, in general, to reject the Geological and Mining Law as written (Sejm document No. 3238) and to start work on amending it in accordance with the true socio-economic needs of Poland, and Polish national interests.

Sincerely,

Edward Wojciech Jeśman, President
Polish American Strategic Initiative (PASI)
Polish American Congress of Southern California
president@joinpasi.org

Gene Sokolowski, Ph.D., President
PASI Educational Organization
gsokolow@verizon.net

Andrzej Prokopczuk, Ph.D., President
Polish American Congress of Northern California

Jerzy Bogdziewicz, President
Polish American Congress of Florida

Richard Brzozowski, President
Polish American Congress, New York Long Island Division

Andrzej Burghard, President
Polish American Congress, New Jersey Division