BOGATYNIA, POLAND — The huge hole in the ground, dug ever deeper and wider by generations of Polish strip miners feeding their country’s voracious appetite for coal, has devoured a dozen villages and nibbled away at land and homes in a 19th-century spa town on its rim.
The hole has grown so big, sucking in water from miles around, that wells over the border in the Czech Republic are running dry, local residents say.
Michael Martin, a German train driver who lives in a Czech village across the border from the Polish mine, said the well in his garden, previously his main source of water, is now nearly dry and he runs a pipe to a deeper communal well more than 100 yards away.
“They say they want to be good neighbors,” he said of the miners in the nearby Polish town of Bogatynia, in southwestern Poland, “but why do they keep digging for coal and taking my water?”
Coal, with which Poland generates around 70 percent of its electricity, more than any other European country, has a tenacious grip in this part of the world: it provides energy, jobs and votes to those who defend it, like the conservative governing party, Law and Justice.
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