Drive to stop fracking fires up support

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Copy of jonathan deal INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) chairman Jonathan Deal speaking at a press conference on Monday. Picture: Thomas Holder

Cape Town - The Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) says donations for its fight against fracking have been pouring in since the government lifted the moratorium on exploration for shale gas last week.

TKAG chairman Jonathan Deal said the organisation had received support from all over the world and that it had raised just over R100 000 over the weekend.

Collins Chabane, the Minister in the Presidency, announced last week that the moratorium had been lifted and that the cabinet had approved the report drawn up by the task team established to explore the viability of shale gas exploration.

Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu is expected to brief the media on Tuesday on the technical task team’s report.

Deal said they were ready to take the matter to the Constitutional Court but would first wait to see the exploration licences that would be given to companies.

Deal said fracking had been banned or restricted in 155 jurisdictions around the world and that TKAG research revealed fatal flaws in the environmental management plans (EMPs) of the three current applicants, Royal Dutch Shell, Bundu and Falcon.

“These flaws mean that the plans of the applicants are at odds with various South African laws and regulations as well as the constitution of the country,” Deal said.

“In addition to this, the internationally critical reputation of fracking, and the rejection of the destructive polluting technology by tens of millions of people in other countries has never been dealt with by our government (despite formal notification of these facts to our cabinet by TKAG) nor by any of the applicants to mine for shale gas in SA.”

Deal said there were other less harmful and more sustainable ways to create jobs, generate energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) chief executive Neren Rau said environmental concerns needed to be balanced against potential economic benefits.

“SACCI believes that apart from making South Africa less reliant on imported energy sources, the benefits that will result from the exploitation of gas reserves will include the creation of sorely needed jobs,” said Rau.

Meanwhile, Bishop Geoff Davies, executive director of the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute, said the decision to lift the moratorium was irresponsible.

“This decision is particularly disturbing as South Africa hosted COP17, the climate talks, and should know well the reality of climate change,” Davies said.

Saliem Fakir, head of WWF-SA’s Living Planet Unit, said the organisation maintained its scepticism on the issue of fracking.

The moratorium “should have remained in place so that environmental externalities, such as the water and carbon footprint associated with shale gas exploration, could be properly interrogated”.

“The shale gas issue has been handled in an appalling manner. That the task team’s brief and findings have still not been disclosed is extremely disconcerting,” Fakir said. - Cape Argus

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