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Fracking: State prioritises short-term gains

Published Mar 3, 2014

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Cape Town - Pushing ahead with fracking and mining, but delaying the carbon tax, suggests the government is set on getting short-term revenue at the expense of water supplies, food security and fighting the worst of climate change.

This is according to specialists at World Wide Fund for Nature-South Africa, who say while they agree with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s assertion in his Budget speech that there is a need for a “more humane and sustainable future”, some of his decisions will affect the security of energy, water and food for generations to come.

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Christine Colvin of WWF- SA said Gordon acknowledged that the demand for minerals had moderated and was unlikely to pick up, yet he nevertheless promised to promote mining by fast-tracking mine licensing. The mines are on eight percent of our land that produces 50 percent of our water, and on 12 percent of our land that is arable.

“They’re looking for short-term revenue from mines – because they’ve not successfully developed the beneficiatory industry – at the expense of food and water security for generations to come. If we want to fast-track accessing the resources that will generate temporary revenue, we certainly should not be threatening the land that generates food and water for the whole economy,” Colvin said.

She criticised the government’s intent to push ahead with fracking for shale gas, saying it would leave a legacy that would dwarf the current problems, with acid mine drainage polluting water supplies.

“The majority of small towns in the Karoo rely solely on groundwater. They have no other water resources. The lessons learnt from around the world are that fracking is a very dirty business.

“The short-term gains of carbon-contributing fossil fuels from fracking cannot be traded off against groundwater reserves that have built up over thousands of year, against water that has supported livestock industries over hundreds of years,” Colvin said.

 

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The carbon tax roll-out due next year, was shifted to 2016. The proposed tax to be levied is R120 for every ton of carbon emitted. - Cape Times

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