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Legal Challenge to Mandated Renewable Energy in the EU

IS there any reason why Irish citizens should be paying for renewable energy contracts, which were awarded without proper authority or planning permissions, which were granted in a manner which was not legally compliant?

According to Pat Sword the contracts are illegal along with the European Unions attempts at enforcing them. Mr Sword is a chemical engineer with considerable technical experience in the design and implementation of renewable energy projects. But now he’s spear-heading a legal challenge that has just had the The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) rule in his favour, in particular that the manner in which the EU is implementing its renewable energy programme (20% renewable energy by 2020) is not in compliance with the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters.

Here is a Q&A Mr Sword did on the Convention after returning from a September 2011 Compliance Committee meeting in Geneva.

 

 

Mr Sword explains the situation today in the following letter:

Dear Jennifer

This has been a highly complex case of environmental law, for which the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee has issued its draft findings and recommendations today…

In a nutshell UNECE has ruled that the manner in which the EU is implementing its renewable energy programme (20% renewable energy by 2020) is not in compliance with the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters, namely the citizen’s human and environmental rights, see introduction and three minute video clip: http://www.unece.org/env/pp/introduction.html .

Essentially the Convention defines the procedural rights of the citizen relating to the provision of information on the environment, the participation in the development of policies and individual planning decisions and finally the right to contest acts and omissions of the authorities in a legal system, which is fair, equitable, timely and not prohibitively expensive.

To repeat again, this case was complex. The EU ratified the Convention in 2005 and in order to do so brought in the necessary legal provision, namely Directives, which applied to the Member States and Regulations, which applied to its own Bodies and Institutions, Ireland was not only the single Member State, which has failed to ratify the Convention, but it failed also to comply with the necessary EU legislation implementing the Convention. While the UNECE Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee will investigate Communications from the public, they cannot do so in the case of Ireland, as it will not ratify the Convention, so a much more complex case had to be developed to bring the EU before the Compliance Committee. Furthermore, the Compliance Committee has only a limited amount of resources, so they will investigate only a limited number of test cases and will chose to investigate what aspects they consider important in improving general compliance with the goals of the Convention.

In this respect, they are not a regular legal court, so not all aspects in which EU and National law was breached will be addressed, only specific terms related to the Convention. In addition many of the issues were highly technical, which would be better understood by technical experts rather than a tribunal of legal experts with a limited timeframe.

However, this is a hugely important decision, which goes beyond the Irish situation to all the 27 Member States, the renewable energy programme as it currently stands is proceeding without ‘proper authority’, the public’s right to be informed and to participate in its development and implementation has been by-passed. The goal of UNECE is to achieve compliance with the Convention, a process will now be started to ensure that the recommendations are addressed, if ultimately they are not, then UNECE has the option of requiring the EU to withdraw from this UN Convention on Human and Environmental Rights.

Finally there is another ‘twist to this tale’, as the Convention is part of EU law, there is now a legal ruling that this law has not been complied with. There are long established legal procedures where if a Member State does not comply with EU law, the citizen can seek ‘damages made good’. http://ec.europa.eu/eu_law/infringements/infringements_dommages_en.htm
Electricity costs are soaring to implement these dysfunctional policies, which have by-passed proper and legally required technical, economic and environmental assessments. Not only is the landscape being scarred as thousands of wind farms are being installed, but people in the vicinity are suffering health impacts from low frequency noise, while birdlife and other wildlife is also adversely impacted. It is long overdue that a STOP was put to this type of illegal and dysfunctional policy development and project planning.

Regards

Pat Sword

**************

To spend billions of our money a ‘positive’ has to be proven

Wind and solar energy, when the weather is right, are effective for what is on the clothes line. This does not mean that Ryan air are going to buy gliders or sailing ships will deliver cargo into our ports. Yet we revel in the fact that billions are to be spent in ensuring that 37% of Ireland’s electricity is to be wind powered. Many engineers ‘spoil the party’ by pointing out that this technology is completely obsolete, is ineffective and can only be supported by massively inappropriate subsidies. Others argue that it is ‘free energy’ and our future wealth.

Pat Swords is a Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers and a Chartered Environmentalist. He has not only designed high technology industry throughout Ireland and Europe, but over a decade on EU technical assistance projects helped implement EU environmental legislation into the new Member States. Pat, a specialist in environmental protection, will only tolerate expenditure on that which is cost effective and appropriate; Green and grandiose is out.

Pat’s point is clear, public opinion does not bestow Rights; only the law does. Pat and other similar professionals can demonstrate, that the approximately one thousand wind turbines installed to date in Ireland, have completely failed to deliver their claimed emissions and fuel savings. Furthermore, no additional savings will ensue; as we implement the Government and EU approved plan to increase the number of turbines to nearly four thousand, complete with a doubling of our high voltage grid by an extra 5,000 km.

However, to be clear Pat does not have to prove a ‘negative’. To implement such a plan, the Administration has to prove to us a ‘positive’. After all, even for a small project at home, one has to know how much does it cost and why are we doing it! So Pat started looking for the information, which should have been there by law. He is nearly three years later still looking, but now with the assistance of the United Nations Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee, who are well advanced on a compliance investigation (Communication ACCC/C/2010/54) against the EU.

To explain, while Irish law defers to that of the EU, the EU has also ratified International Treaties and Agreements. One such is the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters. This is important, it is your Human and Environmental Rights, in particular your procedural rights to participate in the decision making around you. If one wants to implement a significant industrial policy or project, the public has to be provided with information related to costs / benefits / impacts and allowed to properly participate in both the policy development and individual planning decisions.

Ireland won’t ratify the Convention; its Administration does not believe in transparency or in providing its citizens with access to a legal system, which is fair, equitable, timely and not prohibitively expensive to contest acts and omissions of the authorities. So in Europe and Central Asia, we are essentially alone with Russia in this regard. However, the EU ratified the Convention in 2005, so it applies to Community legal order here in Ireland.

To clarify, with regard to public participation in decision-making, members of the public do not have a veto right, but the authorities must, to an objectively high standard, show that public comments have been seriously considered. Therefore they should be able to show why a particular comment was rejected on substantive grounds. Indeed in appropriate circumstances a member of the public, whose comments were not duly taken into account, should be able to challenge the final decision in a judicial proceeding. Elsewhere in Europe this is routine with a cost amounting to less than €5,000.

The Irish Administration has already been in and out of the European Court of Justice for a refusal to comply with the EU Directives implementing the Convention.

However, this is where things are getting interesting. The Treaty of Lisbon is clear, the Citizen has a Right to Good Administration and to have damages made good. Furthermore, the European Court of Justice has several decades of case law on citizen’s rights to damages where EU law was not adhered to.

Eirgrid engineers pointed out in 2004, the inefficiencies on the grid which would occur if the current level of wind energy, about one thousand turbines, was installed. They concluded a 15% increase in generation costs was not justified given other alternatives. They were ignored, so household electricity rates have gone from 15 cent per unit in 2006 to the current 20.5 cent per unit, while natural gas, which fuels 60% of our electricity, is still for industry consumers in the 2006 price range. If one installs lots of wind turbines from Denmark, where household rates are a whopping
29.5 cent per unit, then all these billions will have to be paid for.

Pat’s efforts in his private time are demonstrating that neither the Irish Administration nor the EU made the slightest effort to comply with the legally binding Convention.

Not only has no verification been made of emission savings to date, but the costs and emission savings associated with the now legally binding 40% renewable energy target are completely unknown.

Indeed, under the original 2001 EU Directive on renewable energy, the EU Commission was legally required by 2005, to assess the environmental degradation cost associated with the greenhouse gas emissions from conventional power stations and the price distortion effects associated with public support for renewable energy. They simply decided not to complete the report and instead came up with an even bigger programme for renewable energy. This is a plan based completely on political ideology, which has by-passed the legally binding procedures in relation to assessment and democratic accountability.

As Ireland won’t ratify the Convention, the Compliance Committee cannot accept a Communication in relation to alleged non-compliances by Ireland. So Pat had to document a case against the EU. As the Compliance Committee pointed out after their September meeting after hearing evidence from both parties; on approval of the Convention, the EU declared that it would be responsible “for the performance of those obligations resulting from the Convention which are covered by Community law
in force”. They therefore concluded in their follow up letter to the EU Commission
with:

“Could you please explain why the Commission says that it is not responsible for the actions of the Member State in this case?”

The Compliance Committee met four times a year. They propose to issue their draft findings and recommendations after their March meeting. As Pat states; “the evidence of non-compliance is overwhelming, while one will have to wait for the ruling; non-compliance with the Convention is a breach of EU law. The Compliance Committee has already ruled that the EU has to provide better access to the European Courts for citizens to challenge acts and omissions of EU institutions.
There is no reason why Irish citizens should be paying for renewable energy contracts, which were awarded without ‘proper authority’ or planning permissions, which were granted in a manner which was not legally compliant”.

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125 Responses to “Legal Challenge to Mandated Renewable Energy in the EU”

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  1. Comment from: Peter Lang


    In the Climate Casino: An Exchange
    Roger W. Cohen, William Happer, and Richard Lindzen, reply by William D. Nordhaus
    April 26, 2012
    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/apr/26/climate-casino-exchange/

    I received this pertinant commment regarding this exchange:

    Behind all the sniping, this debate seems to hinge on how to handle uncertainty. The alarmists believe things might be much worse than the “best estimate” projections therefore the sky is falling; in contrast the sceptics feel that things won’t be as bad at the “best estimate” therefore no worries. It occurs to me that both are missing the point.

    Uncertainty about the problem is a given; uncertainty about the chosen solution is inexcusable. Which is to say, that we should be confident that solutions we implement are going to be effective, and the more expensive the solution the more confident we should be.

    To illustrate what I mean, suppose we detect a large asteroid whose orbit will intersect earth’s, and on best estimates there is a 1% probability it will hit earth. Clearly, we wouldn’t let uncertainty prevent us from reacting to the threat. One response might be to spend trillions of dollars to build a fleet of nuclear-tipped missiles to destroy or deflect the asteroid. Is this a good idea? Well, it depends on how certain we are that missiles will work. If there is only, say, a 5% chance, or worse we don’t know the odds, then it is time to go back to the drawing board.

    In short, big responses require high levels of confidence that they will work. I am not sure our C tax meets this test.

  2. Comment from: gavin


    C’mon Peter Lang; while chasing cow farts you only had the black bull by half a hoof and at about 25, 000, 000,000 tons of CO2 /Y going on, it’s nothing less than procrastination for you to infer the energy industry here can’t account for their massive contribution in time for a tax. Also the whole idea of compliance in the measure is wrong as nobody is about to set limits on combustion output or efficiency. Carbon burnt by the ton gives us almost three times that weight as CO2. Weighing the waste, ash or cinder for the different fuels is going to be a lot easier than planning for the same error in your proposed sea walls.

    Peter; I come from the Can-do Tribe. My forebears cleared forests, surveyed and built roads, drained swamps and poured a lot of concrete walls but nobody I know did a whole coast line or a complete river delta dyke system. It.s nonsense to compare the Bangladesh land-seascape battle with weather and climate to our well established energy business’s battle with new regulators.

  3. Comment from: Peter Lang


    Robert @ May 12th, 2012 at 9:21 pm said:

    I’d like to thank all the energy producers who have made my life better, safer and easier than that of nearly all the other humans who lived before my time. Cheap, abundant electricity and fossil fuel energy have reached into every corner of my life to make it better. I, and many of the people I cherish, probably owe our very survival to the stupendous improvements made possible by cheap abundant electricity and fossil fuel energy.

    I agree. And this Figure http://www.warwickhughes.com/blog/?p=1518 shows why Robert is correct. It shows that CO2 is good for wealth, health and happiness (sourced from: Figure 2 here: http://thegwpf.org/gwpf-reports.html )

    Until we are ready and willing to move on to a better source of energy, fossil fuel is the best we have available. The past progression shows that each step forward is to fuels with higher energy density, so we certainly will not be stepping back to energy sources with low energy density like solar, wind and other renewable energy.

  4. Comment from: Peter Lang


    Gavin,

    Your assertions have already been addressed on the thread “The ultimate compliance cost for the ETShttp://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=13578 and more recently on “Australian clean energy future costs and benefitshttp://www.warwickhughes.com/blog/?p=1556&cpage=1#comment-32993.

    I’d be happy to debate them further on either of those threads, but not here as it is way off topic and it will distract from the value of what has been posted on this thread so far (for a Citizens Inquiry).

  5. Comment from: gavin


    Perer; I assumed you were trying to link our case with their case of “Mandated Renewable Energy in the EU” when we are simply not in the same boat yet.

    “It shows that CO2 is good for wealth, health and happiness” is another red herring too in either context and you are not in a position to decide for others including all those living on the fringe of the ocean. I for one have lived without mains electricity at every turn ant it doesn’t reduce wealth, health or happiness at that time.

    I have faith in fellow man, when it comes to technology, I go with the practice. A surgeon has saved my bacon more than once with a scalpel. But a little knowledge can also go a long way.

    Yesterday I salvaged three vintage spanners. Two were patented adjustables, one a “King Dick” type made in Sheffield UK about 1940, the other an original “Crescent” USA. The third patented by “Cyclone” Aust was a double openender with fixed “Gripmaster” cloverleaf jaws. Only one design has survived as the standard tool. In fact technology change is so rapid now, we don’t bother to register domestic electronics.
    Any scheme lives or dies now only by it’s continuing usefulness.

  6. Comment from: Robert


    “I for one have lived without mains electricity at every turn ant it doesn’t reduce wealth, health or happiness at that time.”

    Maybe those running massive hospitals and wielding scalpels for your continued existence were of a different opinion…at that time.

    Global Ingratitude is causing rising intellectual bilge to wash over our minds.

  7. Comment from: gavin


    Robert; we live in an aberration of good times when more than half the youths working behind our local Woollies deli counter don’t eat fish and can’t say why. Add too; less than half the kids in our communities, here and in the UK actually eat fresh fruit or veg on a regular basis. Those that would probably try after harvesting a school based garden may have to educate parents in cooking same at home.

    I say turn off the lolly and the TV then do some work before and after being bottle fed.

    On a more practical note; I say we must hasten generator conversion to natural gas thus cutting emissions while improving response to solar /wind downtime grid demand

  8. Comment from: Robert


    Gav, in the good old days of meat-and-three-veg, Australia was powered by fossil fuels, coal in particular, in facilities which were modern at the time. In these naughty days of computer games and fast food, we burn (and waste) coal in aging facilities while we send 70% of our coal o/s to be burnt in facilities that are modern, and consequently far less wasteful. Mystifying, is it not?

    As our dependence on coal and coal revenues increases, we waste the coal domestically by burning it in last century facilities, and we then waste the coal revenues by investing in medieval piles of junk. One might also note that all those grossly inefficient solar and wind installations are not manufactured by power from solar and wind installations – or Timmy’s Geothermia! You guessed it! They burn fossil fuels to manufacture that junk, they burn fossil fuels to supplement that junk, and when that junk has to be dismantled, we still won’t have modern coal power turbines or nukes. Because we spent the money on junk.

    Sounds like the food we give to kids these days, doesn’t it? Fad-based junk.

  9. Comment from: Peter Lang


    “global warming would be net beneficial to human welfare, at least through 2C degrees of warming”

    See Section 3 here: http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/46648

    As Tol’s diagram quite clearly indicates, the consensus of economic studies finds that global warming would be on net beneficial to human welfare, at least through 2C degrees of warming (and this is relative to the current baseline, not to preindustrial times).

    And

    using Nordhaus’ own preferred studies, in conjunction with the standard IPCC simulations, the best estimates currently predict that unregulated greenhouse gas emissions will provide net benefits to human welfare for the next sixty years.

    And

    When Nordhaus claims in his New York Review of Books article that his work shows the benefits of a carbon tax, the reader must realize that he means an optimally calibrated tax that is simultaneously implemented by all governments around the world, and is maintained at the (time-varying) optimal level through the year 2100. Nordhaus is saying that the best science tells us that that outcome would be better than governments doing nothing to restrict the market’s emissions of greenhouse gases.

    Obviously, this standard of a textbook-optimal, decades-long, world-comprehensive carbon tax is quite an unrealistic benchmark to contrast with the real-world market outcome. Using Nordhaus’ own model, we can test the robustness of his result by looking at what happens when (say) only half the world participates in a carbon-limitation program, or when (say) governments penalize carbon emissions at more than the economically efficient rate. These tweaks can significantly reduce the “net benefits” flowing from a carbon tax.

    And

    Conclusion

    The actual situation is that the physical climate models have indeed predicted more warming than has actually occurred, while the economics literature casts serious doubts on the case for immediate government mitigation efforts.

  10. Comment from: gavin


    Rob oh mate; you can be so way off the mark with some of our engineering. For a while I could fly over then drive past a big white factory purpose built on the edge of the airport in my old home town. There was no stack or coal burning power plant within a cooee so the air was as pure as an ocean breeze. However they built and erected all the wind turbines for one of our largest wind farms right under my nose. My brother’s schoolmate was their electrical foreman for the duration.

    Earlier, I had encouraged the pair of them, there was a future in that state growing beyond the power of its hydro, quite cheap in the first instance but over sold to large base load users in the end.

    Getting independent reviews on that predicament required more than just my patience. The campaign had to move back to the Loans Council and Federal Parliament. Every state as it happens want’s to exploit the local resource but often the public users can’t see the wood for the trees. It is only a strip of green generally shielding the plot. Grabbing our tax dollars becomes the main event.

  11. Comment from: gavin


    Peter; you can’t say where in that 2C rise might the ice trigger lie for a meter or so SL rise.

  12. Comment from: Peter Lang


    Gavin,

    Can you provide links to the most authoritative estimates of the damage costs due to an assumed sea level rise, of say 0.5 m in 100 years, including allowance for increase in steps.

    I want to see the details of the basis of the damage cost estimate to understand how it has been done.

    I’d like to see an estimate of the damage cost estimate for Australia or for a city e.g. Sydney. Where can I get such an estimate (other than by clearly alarmist groups such as Greenpeace and politically partisan players such as Ross Garnaut)?

    See David Brewerss comment here: http://www.warwickhughes.com/blog/?p=1556&cpage=1#comment-32990

  13. Comment from: Peter Lang


    Gavin,

    Peter; you can’t say where in that 2C rise might the ice trigger lie for a meter or so SL rise.

    Can you say that CO2 tax and ETS will prevent the threats you are concerned about (but Tim Flannery and Al Gore clearly are not concerned about given where they have built their houses)?

  14. Comment from: gavin


    Peter; without looking round the traps as I normally do when faced with such questions (nice day, stuff to do). I would expect to start with a bottom up approach. Since a few of my tech school mates landed careers in coastal ship engineering, marine board diving etc I followed their interests when I could. Choose therefore Bass Strait and it’s coastal development post WW2, find hard and soft targets, protected ports and extensive real estate development behind dune systems then seek the local studies and planning re climate change.

    Bottom up strategies require a knowledge of previous infrastructure costs for the developing the shipping routes, breakwaters, terminals, railways, roads, bridges right along the coast and up in the estuaries. The most sensitive infrastructure though is all our sewage and water treatment works where outfalls can be seriously affected by high tides and floods.

    Last but not least, another long term acquaintance was the supervisor for all regional power line maintenance. His nightmare was storms that left salt caked on all the overhead gear.

  15. Comment from: Peter Lang


    Gavin

    “I would expect to start with a bottom up approach.”

    Good!. So where is it?

    Would you agree it should have been done for spinning a web of propoganda about catastrophic climate change?

    Would you agree the government should do proper cost benefit analyses before legislating high cost policies lie the CO2 tax and ETS?

  16. Comment from: Peter Lang


    Here dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10584-010-9977-4 is an example of the sort of study Ross Garnaut, Treasury and DCCEE have relied on.

    “the present analysis assumes a homogenous global rise of 0.5 m above current levels by 2070. This is in the upper range of IPCC projections (IPCC 2007) and well within the ranges of other projections (e.g. Rahmstorf 2007). The storm enhancement factor (reflecting the potential increase in extreme water levels due to more intense storms) was developed as part of this study; for tropical storms a 10% increase in extreme water levels was assumed, with no expansion in affected area; while for extratropical storms, a 10% increase in extreme water levels was assumed between 45and 70 degrees latitude. …a uniform 0.5 m decline in land levels was assumed from 2005 to the 2070s in those cities which are historically susceptible, commonly port cities located in deltas. Together, this approach gives a variable change in extreme water level from roughly 0.5 m in cities only affected by global sea-level rise, to as much as 1.5 m for those cities affected by global sea-level rise, increased storminess and human-induced subsidence.”

    Can you spot the wild and unjustified assumptions.

    David Brewer here http://www.warwickhughes.com/blog/?p=1556&cpage=1#comment-32990 says:

    Note that not a single actual datum on observed change in relative sea level is used for any of the ports in the study.

    Now, actual observed changes in relative sea level around the world averages around 3 mm a year – i.e., 20 cm per 65 years. No acceleration is evident in recent decades. Yet the paper assumes rises of 50-150 cm in the next 65 years.

    Read more of David Brewer’s comment and other comment here: http://www.warwickhughes.com/blog/?p=1556&cpage=1#comment-32990

    This is the sort of nonsense our Government uses to justify its highly damaging policies.

  17. Comment from: Peter Lang


    Gavin,

    By now, anyone with an open mind would at least have begun to question their beliefs. Many would have recognised their beliefs are wrong and recognise they’ve been sucked in by propoganda.

  18. Comment from: gavin


    There is plenty on the web for those truly interested in starting points

    http://www.adelaide.edu.au/press/titles/coastal/Coastal-eBook.pdf

    http://www.climatechange.gov.au/publications/coastline/~/media/publications/coastline/1-Chapter-1.pdf

    http://www.dpiw.tas.gov.au/inter/nsf/WebPages/PBAS-7P65GL?open

  19. Comment from: Peter Lang


    Gavin,

    I asked for a link to a cost estimate (including methodology and basis of estimate) for damages attributable to a sea level rise for Australia or Sydney or some other Australian city (I suggested the estimate could be based on an assumptions such as say 0.5 m over 100 years).

    You said:” “I would expect to start with a bottom up approach.”

    Then you provide links that make no reference to costs and do not address the question.

    There are millions of links on the web site. Trolls post unrelated links and comments that have nothing to do with the questions asked or the issue under discussion.

    Are you a troll? Is your intention to spam this thread?

  20. Comment from: gavin


    That settles it Peter.

    No body is obliged to serve up info, arguments whatever precisely in the form demanded especially when you are about to belittle anything that is not quite on your blog theme. Be pedantic because you wont learn another way.

  21. Comment from: Peter Lang


    Gavin,

    You didn’t answer the question. Is the answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’?

  22. Comment from: toby


    Peter dont waste your time.

  23. Comment from: Peter Lang


    Robert Mendelsohn (2009), Climate Change and Economic Growth
    World Bank

    Abstract:
    Grim descriptions of the long‐term consequences of climate change have given the impression that the climate impacts from greenhouse gases threaten long-term economic growth. However, the impact of climate change on the global economy is likely to be quite small over the next 50 years. Severe impacts even by the end of the century are unlikely. The greatest threat that climate change poses to long-term economic growth is from potentially excessive near-term mitigation efforts.
    http://www.growthcommission.org/storage/cgdev/documents/gcwp060web.pdf

  24. Comment from: Latest News 5/15 From John Droz « Save Our SeaShore


    [...] Legal Challenge to Mandated Renewable Energy. [...]

  25. Comment from: Tony Price


    Many, if not most of the so-called “cost estimates” for likely damage to person or property assume no future mitigation whatsoever, and in that their authors are being at best disingenuous, at worst telling lies. They also assume (though not explicitly stated) that development will continue apace, “business as usual”, and organisations and individuals will march like lemmings to the cliff edge.

    Gavin’s reports calculate damages for a sea-level rise that’s unknown, and for a future situation that’s unknown also. The word worthless ascribes them too much value.

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