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Planned Offshore Energy Reforms Trigger Protests in Greece

ATHENS — Environmental groups in Greece are urging the public to join a campaign against plans by the center-right government to overhaul offshore oil and gas exploration rules, which authorities argue will help the country end its dependence on coal.

The proposed changes are due to be put to a vote in parliament Tuesday. They include increasing central government oversight of exploration procedures and the establishment of priority zones for energy activity in protected nature areas.

But on the eve of the vote, Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund said they have started an online petition against the draft legislation, which they say would remove vital safeguards for environmental protection.

Greece plans to phase out most lignite-power production by 2023 and fully by 2028, with the additional use of renewable energy sources and natural gas. Authorities argue that the energy reforms will allow them to better target offshore areas that require a high degree of environmental protection. 

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