Against Chancellor Angela Merkel's wishes, Germany's environment minister on Friday rejected a request to extend the life of the country's oldest nuclear power plant - demonstrating the sharp division over nuclear energy within Merkel's coalition government.
Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel, a Social Democrat, said the application from utility RWE was not in accord with a 2000 German law mandating the shutdown of all 17 nuclear plants by 2021 "and therefore has to be rejected."
Merkel agreed to keep the 2000 shutdown plan when she and her conservatives forged a coalition government with the left-of-center Social Democrats, and she has been careful not to propose scrapping it.
But as concerns over global warming have grown, the former physicist has pointed out the clash between the nuclear shutdown and Europe's goal of reducing greenhouse gases, seen as a top priority of Germany's six-month stint at the head of the EU.
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