The secret Habeck files: How the German government deceived the country about the nuclear phase-out

They should remain secret forever and never see the light of day: Secret files from Robert Habeck's ministry now show how systematic deception was carried out in two green-led ministries in order to prevent the continued operation of nuclear power plants. Sometimes the assessment of the ministry's own experts was intentionally reversed in order to deliberately misinform the public.

This action should be covered up. And right in the middle are the ministers Robert Habeck and Steffi Lemke. Everything for the big goal: the final end of nuclear power. The green founding myth should finally come true.

The magazine Cicero had challenged the internal documents from the Habeck Ministry in court - it now has the headline in its current issue with the words: "Habeck's secret files - How the Greens deceived the nuclear phase-out".

But what is in these files?

Staging a gigantic deception

These are the days after Putin's attack on Ukraine, at the end of February 2022. Germany is in shock, concerns are quickly spreading about what the war and dependence on Russian gas could mean for electricity and heat supplies. The three remaining nuclear power plants, which were supposed to be shut down forever on December 31 of the same year, are becoming the focus of the debate.

Essentially, it was about two questions: Is it safe and does it make economic and energy policy sense to operate the power plants for longer?

There are two acts of gigantic deception in two Green-led ministries - Robert Habeck's Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Protection (BMWK) and Steffi Lemke's Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) - carried out by the Greens Felt at the respective management levels and the unconditional, common will to get rid of the hated nuclear energy are connected.

Act 1: Habeck's false statements despite clear expert assessment

“Can a nuclear power plant life extension help to increase energy security in the current situation?” is the question that the experts in Habeck’s ministry are supposed to answer. This is what it says in a message from head of management Robert Heinrich to the head of the electricity department in the ministry, Volker Oschmann, as Cicero 's research shows.

Habeck had stated in an interview that his company was responsible for such an examination, but only commissioned the investigation after his statement. Even without testing, Habeck expressed self-confidence on February 27, 2022 and announced that an extension of the term for the coming winter would not help. The nuclear power plants could “only continue to operate under the highest safety concerns and possibly with fuel supplies that have not yet been secured.”

A false statement from Habeck, as the test results from his own company show. The assessment of the electricity experts in Habeck's ministry could not have been clearer: They come to the conclusion that continued operation of the three nuclear power plants would increase energy security and reduce the price of electricity. In addition, not continuing operations would be “extremely risky”. This is what Cicero quotes from the four-page assessment from March 3, 2022.

The focus was on the question of whether Germany has enough gas to heat in winter and to produce enough electricity in hours and days with little sun and wind. Habeck's experts come to the conclusion: “An extension of the operational life of the nuclear power plants until March 31st. can help defuse this situation.”

What's more, they rate it as "extremely risky" to rely solely on coal-fired power plants, which Habeck brought back online: Literally it says: "In addition, it is extremely risky to rely solely on additional electricity generation from natural gas next winter “To support reserves and coal-fired power plants that have already been shut down.”

Habeck's experts also clearly answered the question about the price of electricity: “Since nuclear energy is at the lower end of the merit order with very low variable costs, its use pushes more expensive marginal power plants out of the merit order. Since the residual load is particularly high in January and February, it is to be expected that nuclear energy will often displace gas-fired power plants. This could cause electricity prices to fall in many hours.”

The merit order principle states that the most expensive power plant still necessary determines the price for electricity production - as a result of the historic energy crisis at the beginning of 2022, every use of gas power plants caused the cost of electricity to explode. More nuclear power could have minimized the use of gas power plants and reduced electricity costs, according to Habeck's experts.

Well-known economists, experts and politicians from the CDU, CSU, FDP and AfD also put forward all of these arguments. The BMWK press office told Cicero that this four-page paper did not reach Habeck. The previously kept secret document “was only available to the management level under State Secretary Patrick Graichen”.

Was this information deliberately kept secret from Habeck? And is that even possible given the public debate that included exactly the arguments cited?

Patrick Graichen is not only the state secretary whom Habeck had to fire after the best man affair and compliance violations in May 2023 - Graichen is also the connection to Stefan Tidow, his state secretary colleague in the Ministry of the Environment, who, according to the report, also took part in the major nuclear power deception. Both know each other from their time at the climate lobby association “Agora Energiewende”.

Act 2: How “compatible with safety” became “rejected on grounds of nuclear safety.”

Tidow is responsible, among other things, for the “S” area, nuclear safety and radiation protection. Together with the Society for Plant and Reactor Safety (GRS), the experts were supposed to explain to the Green Minister Steffi Lemke to what extent extending the life of nuclear power plants would be compatible with nuclear safety.

A note from which Cicero quotes states verbatim that the authors assessed the continued operation of the nuclear power plants that were still running at the time “for several years” as “compatible with maintaining nuclear safety.”

Plain text: The experts in the Ministry of the Environment and the specialist society responsible for it came to the conclusion that it was safe to continue operating the nuclear power plants.

Tidow's department head, the lawyer Gerrit Niehaus, seemed to have disliked the content of the expert assessment because he simply turned it into the opposite.

From “over several years” and “compatible with the maintenance of nuclear safety” became: “Department S (Nuclear Safety, Radiation Protection) comes to the conclusion that the extension of the service life of the three still running nuclear power plants beyond the legally stipulated and planning basis “It is not justifiable from a safety perspective beyond December 31, 2022.”

At the end of the revised note, which suddenly no longer had a name on it, but was simply marked "Department S", it was written in bold letters: "An extension of the term is to be rejected for reasons of nuclear safety." The fact that the company's experts for systems - and reactor safety were involved in the assessment were deleted.

It's not just the experts' assessment that shows that department head Niehaus deliberately spread false statements. The actual reality that the three remaining nuclear power plants ended up running three and a half months longer than planned also belies Lemke's man for “nuclear safety” and his claim that the power plants could not be allowed to run at least a few months longer.

Finale: Two papers full of false claims

Cicero's released documents indicate that State Secretary Tidow - just like Graichen in the Habeck Ministry - presumably ensured that the first version of the note ("consistent with certainty") never reached Minister Lemke. Instead, he sent the draft, which had been revised beyond recognition (“to be rejected for reasons of nuclear safety”) directly to his State Secretary friend Patrick Graichen on March 4, 2022.

Graichen went straight to work and prepared a five-page note on “reviewing the continued operation of nuclear power plants due to the war in Ukraine,” which was intended to be the basis for the note that was later published and deceived the public and coalition partners in the government. Nuclear regulator Gerrit Niehaus 's indication that, despite his political convictions, he saw legal deficiencies in the note and that he "could not support it as the responsible supervisory official" came too late that evening.

Graichen had long since sent the draft to Robert Habeck with the words “Stefan Tidow will make a few additions, but basically this can also be the basis for communication between the two houses next week.”

Now - as the Cicero research shows - the minister himself took it upon himself and converted Graichen's text into a question-and-answer piece. He twisted facts into the opposite. “I have made an FAQ based on your excellent paper because I think you have to TELL it ,” the minister himself wrote to the two state secretaries.

After further email back-and-forth, changes and cuts, Habeck's question-and-answer piece and the so-called audit note, peppered with incorrect information, went online on the BMWK and BMU websites on March 8th - and are still available today.

“Then we will pull the plug on the debate on Tuesday and can then concentrate on others,” Cicero quoted a Habeck employee as saying on Sunday evening, two days before publication, from a message to the honorable group.

Things turned out differently.

The debate only really gained momentum when obvious false claims in the audit report and in Habeck's question-and-answer text were publicly discussed - it was clear at this point that the deception of the public and the coalition partners had been consciously orchestrated within the two Green-led ministries not known.

It was ultimately Bavaria's Economics Minister Hubert Aiwanger (Free Voters) who called for help from Chancellor Olaf Scholz: “The most recent statements by your responsible Federal Minister, Dr. Robert Habeck, MdB, at the special energy ministers' meeting (...) make me fear that the Federal Government's lack of action in this regard so far is based on misinformation from the so-called audit note of March 7, 2022 from BMWK and BMUV. (...) I appeal to you to make use of your directive authority and to instruct the BMWK and the BMUV to immediately initiate everything necessary to enable the temporary continued operation of the Bavarian nuclear power plants Isar 2 and Gundremmingen C."

Three and a half months later, Olaf Scholz did exactly that: He used his policymaking authority to enforce the extension of the operating times of the three remaining nuclear power plants - apparently it was possible from a safety perspective. It was not until April 16th that the Isar2, Neckarwestheim2 and Emsland nuclear power plants actually went offline. The green dream of finally eliminating nuclear power seems to have been fulfilled. If it weren't for the CDU and CSU, who want to reverse the nuclear phase-out if they win the next federal election.

The question is also open as to whether Ministers Habeck and Lemke, in whose ministries the facts were reversed, deceived and ultimately tried to cover up the scandal in favor of the green dream of phasing out nuclear power, will still live to see this election in office.

Source: Nius

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