BONN, Jan 2 (DEC) - Juergen Trittin, the German environment minister, on Saturday again riled coalition government colleagues with a proposal to increase the cost of electricity produced by nuclear energy.
Trittin, a leader of The Greens party, "proposed a tax on atomic fuel" a ministry spokesman said, confirming part of a report due to appear on Monday in the German weekly Der Spiegel.
The measure would be "an act of ecological justice with respect to gasoline and natural gas, which are already taxed the same way," if used to generate electricity, the spokesman added.
According to Der Spiegel, the tax would begin in April and reap 767 million euros (897 million dollars), while raising the price of nuclear-produced electricity by 0.5 eurocent (0.6 US cents) per kilowatt hour.
The economics ministry, headed by Werner Mueller, an independent close to the Social Democrats (SPD), categorically rejected the proposal, with a spokeswoman saying there was "no question" of creating the new tax.
A higher levy on nuclear fuel "was never part of the ecological tax that was broadly laid out in November by the coalition," the spokeswoman added.
She also said Trittin's proposal "was no help at all."
Trittin in December was called to order by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder after he unilaterally dissolved two commissions set up to advise the government on nuclear security, ahead of consultations with power companies.
Those talks are due to begin January 26.
He had an earlier spat with Mueller, who charged Trittin was ruining government cooperation by moving ahead unilaterally in formulating nuclear energy law.
Trittin claimed he was just following to the letter what the SPD and The Greens had agreed to in their coalition contract.
They have pledged to abandon nuclear energy, but said there would be a year of talks with the power industry before drafting any legislation.
But they also said a law on the principle of abandoning nuclear energy would be passed within 100 days of the coalition government taking power last October 27.