Berlin — German Environment Minister Steffi Lemke has defended a controversial decision by her cabinet colleague, Economy Minister Robert Habeck, to continue operating two nuclear power plants in the first quarter of 2023.
"I think it is reasonable to keep these two nuclear power plants online for a few more months," the Green politician told broadcaster RTL/ntv on Wednesday, adding that she rejected the continued operation beyond that timeframe.
Habeck announced that the Isar 2 and Neckarwestheim nuclear power plants would "probably" remain online in the first quarter of 2023.
Germany had been set to shutter the last of its three nuclear plants at the end of year, but the war in Ukraine led to fears the country would need all available sources of energy to get through the winter.
So in a major U-turn for the centre-left government, Habeck - also from the Greens - unveiled plans earlier this month to keep two of the three plants on a sort of backup status through April in case they were needed.
The decision triggered contentious debate within the three-way coalition, with nuclear opponents saying the plants must be turned off as planned and proponents arguing for their operational lifespans to be extended for several more years.
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