"US team facilitates SA fracking discussion" February 14, 2014
Stakeholders in the South African shale gas debate met in Pretoria, February 10 and 11 to consider the issues surrounding the advent of shale gas mining in South Africa. The workshop, hosted by the Departments of International Relations and Cooperation, Water Affairs and Environmental affairs provided a forum for stakeholders from government, industry and civil society to air their views on fracking under the Unconventional Gas Technical Engagement Program. The US delegation, under the auspices of the US Department of Interior was headed up by Joseph Figueiredo of the Bureau of Energy Resources with support from the US Bureau of Land Management as well as the US Environmental Protection Agency and other US officials with knowledge of shale gas mining legislation and policy. Figueroa made it clear that the US delegation was not in SA to promote fracking but rather to assist by sharing experiences connected with the technology in the United States. Representatives from Environment, Water Affairs, CSIR, Department of Science & Technology, Department of Minerals, Petroleum Agency of SA, amongst others, formed part of the SA government delegation. Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, Baker Hughes, SRK Consulting, Sasol and others represented industry. Presentations on the Civil Society perspective were delivered by Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) and TKAG. In an announcement in Johannesburg after the event, TKAG CEO Jonathan Deal said that the engagement was the most positive development that TKAG had experienced in more than three years of frustrating dialogue around fracking in South Africa. “Finally, we have a commitment from engaged government agencies to develop a strategic environmental assessment around the issue of shale gas mining. This is what we have been asking for since May of 2011.” Complimenting the Department of Water Affairs for its proactive and accessible approach to the debate, Deal remarked “We can only hope that by some process of osmosis, the Department of Minerals will follow this example and engage appropriately with all of the stakeholders in this decision.” “In the light of this dialogue, we experience the seemingly uncoordinated announcements by Minister Shabangu (Mining Indaba and government Gazette) in connection to shale gas as perplexing. It will be a sad day if the DMR must be opposed by South African citizens in pursuit of their rights,” concluded Deal.
Meanwhile, the DMR published two notices in the Government Gazette, one inviting comment on placing a restriction on granting new reconnaissance, technical cooperation permits and exploration rights for the next two years and another notice, restricting licences that may be granted from applications received prior to February 2011 over a designated area, from using hydraulic fracturing in the exploration phase until the regulations around the process are finalised. The engagement closed after the adoption of a set of principles presented by Prof Gregory Scott of DWA. Facilitator, Mr. Aniel Singh - Deputy Director General of Water Affairs stressed DWA’s commitment to continue the process with the inclusion of all stakeholders. ENDS/ Jonathan Deal CEO Treasure Karoo Action Group Cell: 076 838 5150 Landline 023 358 9903 Elzane Grobbelaar Treasure Karoo Action Group Phone Office: 021 824 2935 Email: email@example.com Jeanie Le Roux Treasure Karoo Action Group 072-959-1818 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
"Still no consultation on fracking by Mineral Minister " February 5, 2014
Minister Shabangu today announced at the Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town that final regulations pertaining to shale gas exploration would be released shortly. TKAG Operations Director, Jeanie Le Roux remarked that “This announcement comes as yet another disappointment in light of the promises that the Minister has made regarding public consultation on the matter since 2011. To date no effective public consultation undertaken by the government on shale gas mining has materialised in South Africa, despite repeated calls from various stakeholders and public undertakings from Minister Shabangu.
Le Roux stated that various organisations and individuals had submitted detailed comments on the proposed draft technical regulations on shale gas exploration and extraction that were released in late 2013. “There has, to date been no discussion on the proposed amendments to the regulations which were based on American Petroleum Institute standards. The fact that SA’s laws may be based on the same standards that have proved so problematic in America is a serious concern,” remarked Le Roux.
Arguing that “It is illogical for Minister Shabangu to make such statements (that government “will move ahead decisively, yet responsibly, with the exploration of shale gas, and to unleash its potential contribution
to, among others, cost-competitive energy security, employment creation and a range of other latent benefits to the country”) while various role-players and other governement departments are finally embarking on an appropriate investigation of shale gas mining”, Le Roux concluded that “based on up-to-date data, a duplication of the questionable American “shale boom” seems highly unlikely not only in South Africa, but across the globe. She emphasised that TKAG remained committed to working with all stakeholders to scientifically evaluate shale gas within the South African energy, environmental, social and legal structure.
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“Vague fracking legislation points to uninformed decisions – Alliance” November 15, 2013
The vagueness of the proposed regulations reveals a lack of scientific grounding and re-affirms the need for a proper strategic environmental assessement before decisions made by Government on fracking in South Africa can be implemented. This is the view of the Anti-Fracking Alliance (AfriForum and TKAG).
“During the last month when we have worked long hours to address extremely technical regulations, we have been increasingly amazed at the slapdash manner in which these regulations have been drafted. A number of the material clauses are vague in nature. For example, there is frequent application of the words ‘appropriate’, ‘should’, ‘may’ and ‘consider.’ Language of this nature encourages ambiguity in interpretation and application, both from a holder’s perspective as well as that of enforcer, and these are not words which will encourage an industry, notorious for breaking rules and concealing such activity, to afford adequate protection to the environment. This is especially undesirable when one is dealing with a controversial and risky technology,” said Jonathan Deal, CEO of Treasure the Karoo Action Group (TKAG).
Deal asserted that a lack of scientific underlay is evident when one considers the content of the draft regulation, and it is apparent that standards have simply been cut-and-pasted from other publications, with insufficient attention to the real conditions in South Africa. Compounding the task of commenting on the regulations is the secrecy that is still maintained in connection with research teams.
“There has been insufficient involvement of government departments that will be affected by the impact of shale gas mining in South Africa. On the Government’s own papers we have to conclude that the departments of Agriculture, Arts & Culture, Communications, Trade & Industry, Education, Forests & Fisheries, Health, Housing, International Relations, Police, Defence and Intelligence, Rural Development and Land Reform, Social Development, Sport & Recreation, Transport and Tourism have been denied an opportunity to be involved in the shale gas decision for South Africa,” said Deal.
Head of Environmental Affairs at AfriForum, Julius Kleynhans stated that the Alliance intends to ensure that civil rights are upheld and that all development in South Africa is sustainable – in line with the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic. “Under the current circumstances and with the information available to us we are opposed to this form of shale gas extraction in South Africa.”
Kleyhans argued that the Minister of Mineral Resources, Susan Shabangu, provided only 30 days to comment, observing that “even for organisations that have maintained a constant research capability, this has been challenging. To suggest that this so-called ‘public comment period’ consitutes public consultation would be laughable.”
The Anti-Fracking Alliance – AfriForum and TKAG – plan to continue to oppose shale gas mining in South Africa until proper inclusive and informed decision-making takes place. “This problem no longer only impacts the Karoo – several applications have been registered in pursuit of hydrocarbons, and people in KZN, the Free State and other provinces will soon realise this. If South Africa is to escape the damage done in Nigeria, the country needs proper regulations and an enforcement capability that can consistently apply the letter of the law,” concluded Kleynhans.
"DA statement on fracking jobs questioned" September 4, 2013
Treasure Karoo Action Group is of the view that the so-called jobs expected to be created by fracking will not transpire in the expected form or the anticipated numbers and thus should not inform this present debate.
“Firstly, the legal environmental process to begin exploration will take some time – years perhaps, more than months. The exploration process itself has been estimated, even by Shell, at around 4-5 years, and there will be scant local jobs in this phase.”
“Thereafter, it would be a number of years to full production and even then, the rural residents of the Karoo are not going to be in line for trucking jobs and rig operators. Moreover, the technical teams move from location to location – they don’t employ and train a new team for every location.”
“It is concerning that even the DA is counting the jobs probably based on the flawed report released by Econometrix on behalf of Shell.”
This report is flawed because the model that it applied is inappropriate to arrive at a decision in such a dynamic and complicated environment.
In simple terms, the Econometrix model (criticized by various SA economists) adds all the so-called benefits of shale gas but ignores secondary costs to existing workers such as agriculture and tourism, and makes no effort to quantify the cost of damage to roads and town infrastructure nor to health costs, remediation of pollution or even the large agency that would need to be trained and equipped with expensive equipment to monitor and enforce standards.
“Pennsylvania, the ‘darling of US shale gas areas at present’ has just posted its worst year on job statistics since 2010 – this is telling in a state that has been hyped by industry as growing so much due to fracking.”
TKAG’s concern is based on the fact that our leaders appear to have desperately swallowed the first figures that they’ve been offered [by Shell et al] and that their ears and eyes are closed to warnings of what is emerging, in credible reports, from the US.
“The government is obliged to consult openly and honestly on this huge and lasting decision for SA.”
Jeanie Le Roux – Dir. Operations 072-959-1818
Jonathan Deal – CEO 023-358-9903 076-838-5150
"Water usage in fracking to be controlled by Water Act – Alliance September 3, 2013
AfriForum and Treasure the Karoo Action Group (TKAG), a robust alliance against fracking in South Africa, view the announcements by the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa – whereby she declared fracking a controlled activity in terms of the National Water Act – in a positive light.
“This provides an opportunity to control fracking when and where it takes place within the context of the preservation of water as a scarce natural resource,” says Jonathan Deal, Chairperson of TKAG.
“In her briefing today, the Minister dealt with 12 key policy positions. It can hardly be expected of the Minister to block an activity that has recently been so firmly supported by her colleagues in Cabinet. The fact that Minister Molewa has indicated that her Department is readying itself to address fracking does not constitute an authorisation for fracking to go ahead, such a decision would have to come from the Department of Minerals and Energy. We only hope that the Minister will not permit the authority of the DWA to be diluted through delegation of the authority to issue water licences.”
The Alliance against Fracking in South Africa last month said it believed the country’s laws were inadequate to control an industry with a severely tarnished reputation and the process of fracking.
“We have solid legislation and the addition of stronger policies to ensure sustainable development and the protection of the environment and water resources are certainly welcomed, however we must emphasize that our laws need to be enforced and currently there is a great lack of the proper monitoring of water licences, compliance and law enforcement,” says Julius Kleynhans, Head of Environmental Affairs at AfriForum.
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"Disappointment over government's position on shale gas"August 22, 2013
The Alliance against fracking in South Africa, AfriForum and Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG), stresses that shale gas exploration cannot proceed, following a statement by Trade and Industry Minister, Rob Davies, that Government could authorise shale gas exploration before next year's elections.
The Alliance is most disappointed by Government's stance on shale gas exploration. “Firstly, we believe that such a decision will have an impact which will endure far beyond the election cycle of the Government. This decision cannot be rushed through before next year's election. It will be completely irresponsible,” says Jonathan Deal, Chairperson of TKAG.
“Secondly, Minister Shabangu has promised on various occasions to consult with the public of this country prior to making any decision on shale gas mining. This has not happened, and the people of South Africa - at all levels - are entitled to be heard on an issue of this magnitude.”
“We are informed that Government has thus far relied largely on research commissioned by the Department of Minerals - which, in our considered view is singularly inadequate, considering the multidisciplinary nature of mining activity.”
The environmental issues, of which water is only one, are complex and varied, and the laws of South Africa are wholly inadequate to control an industry with a severely tarnished reputation and the process of fracking, the Alliance believes.
“Government is selling votes with this move, but it is an empty promise. Even if Government issues the licences, exploration cannot legally proceed. We will not allow our constitutional rights to be breached; the Alliance will appeal against Government. These court cases will take a long time,” says Julius Kleynhans, Head of Environmental Affairs at AfriForum.
“AfriForum and TKAG are most certainly pro-development, but we cannot endorse a hasty and ill-considered choice that may compromise the prosperity of current and future generations”
Hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, has led to a massive expansion of natural gas production in the United States but has been banned in other countries such as France due to environmental concerns.
“The gas is extracted after cracking open hydrocarbon-rich shale by pumping water, sand and chemicals into the deep wells at high pressure Environmental groups and many scientists believe this technique degrades the land, pollutes ground water and fouls the air,” added Kleynhans.
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"ANC must learn how to consult" July 23, 2013
This is the view of Treasure Karoo Action Group CEO, Jonathan Deal, who responded swiftly to the statement by the ANC secretary-general, Gwede Mantashe, that "the Government will forge ahead with contentious projects that it claims will kick-start the stuttering economy – even if it is taken to court."
Deal pointed out that the ANC has allowed the decision about shale gas development to become mired in secrecy and misinformation. And, with the exception of certain maverick statements by various ministers, the ANC has been largely absent in this debate. Suddenly, the issues of job creation and economic development are used to push through "contentious projects" even though the public participation process has not been concluded and environmental impact studies indicate that shale gas mining will wreak havoc on the area. "And naturally, government ministers have no issue with going to court because they are not accountable for the legal costs," Deal said.
“AfriForum is very concerned about the attitude of the ANC regarding these issues. Our Government preaches sustainable development and democracy, while it simultaneously ignores the Constitutional rights of its citizens. The e-toll saga is a striking example of the way Government disregards the rights and concerns of ordinary people. This ill-advised stance on fracking is another,” says Julius Kleynhans, Head of Environmental Affairs at AfriForum.
"While TKAG is well aware of the issues that South Africa faces in terms of jobs and energy, research has proven that the so-called benefits of shale gas mining do not necessarily co-incide with the figures claimed by Royal Dutch Shell in their campaign to market shale gas to South Africa," says Deal. "It defies belief that a half-hearted effort to research shale gas, and in the face of its own recalcitrance in the past the ANC is now promising to fast-track the process.”
Kleynhans added that fracking will not ensure sustainable job creation or energy in the country and that the long-term effects might cost the country much more. Acid mine drainage in the West Rand is but one example of economic development where a few benefited while the tax-payer has to bear the long-term effects of environmental damage and the financial burden.”
TKAG, AfriForum and their various alliances represent broad spectrum of South Africans who oppose fracking in the Karoo. Government appears to be unaware of this, or they simply do not care. Until such time as the efficacy of this type of development has been proven, the Alliance have vowed to oppose all plans to turn the Karoo into a mine dump. “We’ll meet you in court, Mr Mantashe,” promised Deal.
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"SA communities gearing up to challenge shale gas mining" July 3, 2013
Organisations and communities across South Africa and internationally, are coalescing to oppose shale gas mining (fracking). Ms. Jeanie Le Roux, director of Operations at TKAG stated that “International and local debate surrounding the controversial technology has revealed that there is and alternate view to what Royal Dutch Shell has been telling South Africans.” A recent gathering of lobby groups, academics, civic and faith-based organizations conferred in Steytlerville, in Eastern Cape, to discuss fracking. The dialogue, organized by the Southern Cape Land Committee, produced a resolution to strengthen the voice of local communities who are expected to bear the brunt of the impact of fracking. TKAG has this week, been informed that a national conference of the Khoi people of South Africa held in Graaff-Reinet at the end of June, delivered a resolution opposing shale gas mining in South Africa. It is expected that this will be confirmed by the Khoi people in national media in due course. Commenting on the transformation of leadership in TKAG, Le Roux announced that Pastor Barry Wuganaale, an international activist and faith leader would assume Chairmanship of TKAG, supported by Mr. Daantjie Japhta, ex mayor and resident of Graaff-Reinet in the position of Vice Chair. Current chairman, Jonathan Deal has been appointed as Chief Executive. “We welcome Pastor Wuganaale and Mr. Japhta to our team and have great confidence in their ability to advance the objectives of a new, national alliance against shale gas mining,” she said. Turning to statements made by Minister Shabangu, and the chairperson of the ANC Economic Transformation Committee - Enoch Godongwana, TKAG said “The government is, in our view, ill-equipped, to run ahead of the complex and dynamic process, and the public consultation that must precede the decision to licence – or not licence fracking in South Africa. Mr Godongwana’s reference to the governmental task team report and gas estimates are premature. High-ranking government officials should know better than to make wildly inaccurate statements when dealing with issues of this complexity, scale and magnitude. It is unthinkable that individuals in government can commit South Africa to this decision. TKAG is fully prepared, with the valuable support and commitment of Afriforum to drive this issue to the Constitutional Court.” “There are significant, credible, unresolved questions surrounding shale gas mining in South Africa, which point to a need for robust research before reaching a conclusion on shale gas.” Le Roux said that TKAG is ideally placed to develop a broad platform on which historically diverse interests and groups can unite against shale gas mining in South Africa. “We have firm commitments from groups across the social, environmental and agricultural spectrum to join in a determined opposition.” ENDS/
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"Karoo Lobby group criticises Deputy President on shale gas position June 25, 2013
“In the face of very recent international developments connected to shale gas mining it is unthinkable that a senior government leader in South Africa should make such an ill-considered statement.” This was the view of the Treasure Karoo Action Group in reaction to a SAPA report that quoted Deputy President Kagalema Mothlanthe as saying that "In addition, we have abundant shale gas resources, the commercial exploitation of which we have to investigate and pursue."
Chairman, Jonathan Deal stated that whilst the group was encouraged by the Deputy President’s views on solar energy and offshore gas deposits, his remarks about the potential for "positive economic spin-offs" from the accelerated exploration of shale gas in the Karoo, were in the opinion of the group, disconnected with reality, and premature. TKAG holds that there are significant, credible concerns about shale gas mining that remain unresolved in South Africa. The task team report that formed the basis of the decision to lift the moratorium in September, lacked input from key ministries that would directly be affected by shale gas extraction, including the Departments of Agriculture, Tourism, Rural Development and Land Reform, Transport and many others. No public consultation has taken place on the matter, despite promises made by the Minister of Mineral Resources.
The timeline involved to bring the controversial and risky technology of hydraulic fracturing to production in SA is well in excess of ten years. Moreover, argued Deal, the United States Environmental Protection Agency had just announced another 2 year extension to its investigation on hydraulic fracturing – citing 2016 as the revised delivery date. “If the EPA is not prepared to bow to oil and gas industry pressure in the US and give shale gas mining a green light in terms of environmental impact, water pollution and public health, how is it that the deputy President can speak of accelerated exploration of shale gas in the Karoo?”
We are well aware of the plans of the government to alter legislation to centralize and fast-track environmental impact assessments under the department of Minerals. “This is such a blatant conflict of interest that it defies belief.”
Shale gas extraction is a complex and broad subject. The first three applications for exploration in South Africa spanned an area that covered about a fifth of the country. Many unknowns, uncertainties and significant public concerns point to a need for robust research before reaching a conclusion in favour of shale gas. “At this time we can find no plausible reason to support shale gas mining – and especially the issue of exploration licenses in SA. If this goes down to the wire, it will ultimately end up in the Constitutional Court, concluded TKAG.”
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"Energy minister 'way off mark'" May 15, 2013
Reacting to statements by Minister Peters in Cape Town on May 14, Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) stated that Minister Peters was ‘way off the mark’. Group chairman, Jonathan Deal, argued, “I’m not sure that Minister Peters and I visited the same place.”
Deal had just returned from a 5 week tour of the United States where he spent a significant amount of time in Pennsylvania, personally filming fracking operations by day and by night, and interviewing families negatively affected by shale gas mining.
“I have seen it, heard it, and smelt it. I have showered in the stinking water and stayed with families who cannot drink their own well water. I have seen the divisions and discord that this process has sowed in once united local communities. I have stood in front of family homes – houses now deserted and owned by the oil and gas companies who polluted the water.”
Responding to the opinion attributed to the Minister that shale gas mining “would probably go ahead” and that “within five years, the country would know what resources it was endowed with,” TKAG commented that Minister Peters is not in a position to run ahead of the comprehensive and inclusive national evaluation that should precede shale gas mining in South Africa.
Similarly, Royal Dutch Shell, leading the charge, has failed not only to prove their case economically and scientifically but has also been shown by TKAG to be lying to South Africans about shale gas mining.
“We continue to be astounded by the arrogance and deceitfulness of a global company in attempting to manipulate our government and people in order to achieve their own ends, said TKAG.”
Referring to Minister Peters’ reference to a regulatory environment, Deal added “not even in the United States and more especially in South Africa can we expect to keep tabs on this industry, which has a well-deserved reputation for breaking rules, concealing incidents and denying culpability.”
“For more than two and a half years the issues surrounding shale gas mining in South Africa have been debated backwards and forwards. During that time our government, lead by the Department of Minerals, has failed to properly address the issues surrounding this potentially irreversible decision. We are absolutely convinced, for many reasons, that shale gas mining is an unnecessary, risk-filled and destructive process for South Africa, and that jobs and revenue created by the process will generate meagre benefits compared to the long-term cost that will be borne by current and future generations.
“Being awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for Africa has facilitated the expansion of our campaign to a global level. Governments and industry around the world will soon be faced with the weight of an internationally coordinated opposition. It is time to draw a line between corporate greed and the future of Africa,” concluded Deal.
"South African environmentalist honoured in California" May 7, 2013
South African Environmentalist honored in California
Leader of Treasure Karoo Action Group and Goldman Environmental prize recipient, Jonathan Deal was received by the California State Senate in Sacramento on May 6. The visit to California comes at the end of a five-week US tour during which Deal visited communities across the country that have experienced shale gas drilling. Deal’s written address about fracking, to the State of California, where shale oil and shale gas drilling is currently under debate, was distributed to the Senate members as part of a formal appearance and introduction on the Senate Floor, where the South African flag was raised for the occasion. In the statement, Deal said that his focus had been on learning firsthand about shale gas and shale oil fracking through the eyes of Americans and that he had met with politicians, scientists, legal professionals, industry consultants and the man on the street, both for and against. Citing this experience, he said that he could find no good reason to support this controversial technology and its reliance on an unsustainable resource. Describing the resource itself as rapidly depleting, he said that “fracking carries with it significant environmental risk, far-reaching secondary costs to tax payers, and locks economies - both developing and developed - into a further dependence on fossil fuels.” Turning to alternatives, he added that fracking firmly delays the emergence of renewable technologies, and that the world would have to rely on renewable energy at some point in the future. The written address concluded with a plea to the California Senate to fully consider the net negative effect of embracing the model propagated by the oil and gas industry – a model that Deal said “will see the future prosperity of young Americans traded for short-term gains.” He expressed a hope that the people of California would encourage and support the Senate to choose sustainability over the false promise of a solution to the energy and jobs conundrum that faces governments the world over. Deal will be returning to America in coming months to further international ties that have been established during this visit. /ENDS For further information contact Jonathan Deal US Mobile number 607-33 99 780 firstname.lastname@example.org
"Fracking activist wins international environmental prize" April 15, 2013
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FRACKING ACTIVIST WINS INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL PRIZE
South African environmental campaigner Jonathan Deal was today awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for his work in the fight against hydraulic fracturing in the Karoo.
Each year, the Goldman Environmental Foundation selects grassroots activists from around the world to honour them for their work. With an individual cash prize of $150 000 (close on R1.5m), it is the largest award for grassroots environmental activism in the world.
Deal received the Prize at an awards ceremony in San Francisco on Monday 15 April, 2013. He is one of six recipients of the award for 2013. Other winners were honoured for their work in marshland restoration, solid waste management, marble mining, and coal plant emissions.
Deal is the second South African to be recognized with the Goldman Prize. Bobby Peek was awarded the Prize in 1998 for his fight against industrial pollution in the South Durban region.
“This award coincided with the end of an especially difficult year in the hard fought campaign against fracking,” said Deal.
“Even though I have had to keep the news to myself since November, it has been an enormous inspiration. I have done nothing in this campaign for my personal benefit, however, the recognition from people on the other side of the world has been a great encouragement. The value of the prize has already manifested itself in our organisation, Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG), because I have been able to pay salaries to staff that have worked for two years without, and commit to other expenses that have assisted us in reaching out to rural communities.”
Deal and the TKAG have received a number of awards in recent months for their campaigning, including the WESSA Special Environmental Award in 2011, winning the NPO category for 2012 at the Mail & Guardian Greening the Future Awards, the Habitat Council’s Annual Environmental Award for 2012, and being selected as a finalist for Enviropaedia’s Eco Warrior Award.
“We fought for – and secured – a moratorium on fracking in South Africa but this was lifted in September 2012. Licences can now be issued at any time, but we will be ready to appeal the issuing of any licences,” said Deal.
The moratorium was lifted following the recommendations of a government appointed task team, whose report suggested that exploration proceed without allowing for horizontal drilling or hydraulic fracturing, while laws are amended and a monitoring committee is established.
“Due to the fatal flaws in the applicants' environmental management plans and other considerations, TKAG will be opposing any licences that may be granted,” said Deal.
Fracking is a technique used to extract natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth. Environmental groups and many scientists believe this technique degrades the land, pollutes ground water and fouls the air.
NOTE TO EDITORS:
The GOLDMAN ENVIRONMENTAL PRIZE now in its 24th year, is awarded annually to environmental heroes from each of the world’s six inhabited continental regions. With an individual cash prize of $150,000, it is the largest award for grassroots environmental activism. The Prize was established in 1989 by late San Francisco civic leaders and philanthropists Richard and Rhoda Goldman. Prize winners are selected by an international jury from confidential nominations submitted by a worldwide network of environmental organizations and individuals. For additional information about the Prize and previous winners visit www.goldmanprize.org
TREASURE KAROO ACTION GROUP (TKAG) opposes the introduction and licensing of shale gas extraction through fracking in South Africa in the face of known impacts and the absence of scientific consensus and proof that shale gas is a responsible and sustainable answer to energy, climate and employment challenges in SA. For additional information, visit www.treasurethekaroo.co.za
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"shell is trying to buy the karoo with a free lunch" February 13, 2013
Reacting to reports of meetings held in Karoo towns by Shell, TKAG chairman, Jonathan Deal said today that TKAG were aware of the recent tactics employed by Shell – referring to the meetings as underhanded. Deal cited an example of a meeting that took place in Murraysburg in February,well attended by people apparently informed in advance by a local municipal official. It is noteworthy, he commented, that there was no advance notice of the meeting in any public place, and that it appeared that only certain people were selected as the audience. In fact, five farmers from the Murraysburg area who did perchance find out about the meeting and attend, had no more than an hour or two of notice. According to reports, when local farmer Chris Barr asked Shell about the purpose of the meeting, Shell responded that the meeting was to inform and update local communities. Shell was then asked, if that [to inform local communities] was the purpose, why was there no advance notice to the community about the meeting? After what was described by some as a presentation with no new information and no answers, the audience was treated to lunch courtesy of Shell. When presented with various opportunities in 2012, to present to an informed audience with TKAG present, Shell has declined to appear. The company has also cancelled scheduled meetings with national environmental organisations on learning that TKAG would be present. “Our problem with this underhanded strategy is exactly the same issue we have had with Shell throughout their campaign to sell shale gas mining to South Africans – it is not open, honest and transparent to hold meetings in a town about an issue that affects everyone and only invite certain people,” he added. “What is more, in our [TKAG] experience Shell deliberately overstates benefits and downplays risk, just as they did again in Murraysburg – crucial questions relating to water-sourcing, transport and other issues were answered unsatisfactorily.” Deal said that it was very difficult for a non-profit organisation to compete with the well-funded propaganda machine of Shell and appealed to the public to report any similar activity by Shell or any other oil and gas company.Meanwhile TKAG have confirmed that their legal team is briefed and ready to respond to any formal move by the government to issue exploration licences for shale gas mining. “A review of international media reports will show that there is a growing public awareness of and resistance to shale gas mining. We believe that Shell is trying to push the technology into South Africa, before the community fully appreciates the risk that fracking poses to the prosperity of this country.” ENDS/ For more information please contact: Jonathan Deal Chairman - Treasure Karoo Action Group cell: 076 838 5150 – alternate 023-358-9902 e-mail: email@example.com www.treasurethekaroo.co.za <http://www.treasurethekaroo.co.za>
"opposition to shale gas mining in SA gathers momentum" December 12, 2012
TKAG chairman, Jonathan Deal today announced that Afriforum and TKAG have joined forces to oppose shale gas exploration and mining in South Africa. “The last two years, during which TKAG has campaigned against shale gas mining in SA have been very challenging for us because of our extremely limited resources. We are very pleased to partner with an organisation that shares our vision of sustainable development for South Africa. The unequivocal support of Afriforum will change things dramatically, and TKAG can now concentrate on the almost certain legal battle which lies ahead.”Deal added that Afriforum and TKAG will be working together at senior level, and that the legal campaign will be managed by the law firm appointed by TKAG - Cullinan & Associates. ENDS/
For more information please contact:
Chairman - Treasure Karoo Action Group
cell: 076 838 5150
"south african lobby group cautions international oil and gas conference delegates" November 27, 2012
Speaking at the Southern Africa Oil & Gas Summit in Cape Town, TKAG Chair, Jonathan Deal cautioned delegates not to rush into investment decisions around shale gas mining in South Africa. In an address that included what he described as a sample of the hurdles facing the proponents of shale gas mining in SA, Deal said that in the view of TKAG, the technology was wholly inappropriate for South African conditions and that the applicants and the government would be challenged in the courts.
“Organised industry often accuses environmentalists of standing in the way of development and progress. But our view is that groups like TKAG perform a very valuable function in calling a check on what would otherwise be a headlong rush - into an irreversible decision - by governments eager to appease voters at any cost. I am not convinced that the economics of shale gas mining stack up in favour of the development - in fact I believe that the proponents of fracking have roundly failed to prove their case - and that in contrast to the stated result of helping SA, exploring for shale gas in the Karoo will add little of value compared to the risks of exposing SA unnecessarily to the same hazards and costs that the country would face in production.“
The ‘hurdles’ presented to the conference by TKAG included:
The task team report provided to the SA Cabinet by the Department of Minerals (DMR) as the basis for the Cabinet decision to lift the moratorium on shale gas mining, omits formal comment from South African specialists in, amongst others, the departments of Tourism, Rural Development, Agriculture, Nature Conservation groups, Transport, South African Revenue Services and Health department. “In the absence of scientific evaluation of and comment on these aspects, by South African specialists, in the South African context, the document is a flawed model on which to base a decision on whether or not shale gas mining should be introduced to this country”.
The SA government has an established inability to monitor mining operations, enforce standards of safety and technical compliance, and prosecute offending operators who can and do hire the best international defense with the comparatively vast funds at their disposal. “In 2011/2012, the Departments of Water Affairs and Minerals respectively, acknowledged that there were 53 mines in SA operating without water licenses and more than 5800 abandoned mines which would have to be rehabilitated at the expense of the SA taxpayer. The bill to address an acid mine drainage problem in the town of Carolina has been budgeted at R200 million – again for the SA taxpayer.”
Credible physicians and scientists in the United States have published reports relating to a variety of health concerns for communities and workers close to fracking operations and to those situated within reach of airborne and waterborne pollution. “There has been no formal acknowledgement of these reports by our government, or by any of the current applicants who wait for their exploration licenses.”
A significant cost to the American taxpayer is the repair, upgrading, and maintenance of state roads as a result of the additional volume of heavy vehicles associated with shale gas mining. A group of six counties in Texas
budgeted $500million for the period 2011 to 2016. “South African roads are already in a marked state of disrepair and barely manage to cope with existing traffic volumes. Law enforcement on SA roads cannot be counted as a strength of the Department of Transport, and even in the US, where the law enforcement agencies are better trained, better equipped and better paid, that country is battling to manage the additional enforcement challenges presented by traffic from shale gas mining.”
Consultation with the South African public from the three applicants and from the SA government has been and is inadequate. “The sequence of events in which Minister Shabangu promised in August 2011 to consult with all of the people before reaching any decision on Shale gas mining, and then lifting the moratorium a year later, with a concurrent promise that the government would ‘now consult with the public’ - does not constitute consultation, or participation – it is a fact that the government has decided to authorize exploration and the promise of consultation is empty.”
“Successful exploration will automatically result in the conversion of licenses to full scale production.
There is no precedent for the DMR halting the conversion of an exploration license to production.”
The Shell-commissioned report from Econometrix is a one sided, over-optimistic extrapolation of US industry furnished data, which ignores significant and readily available figures on state expenditure such as transport costs, health services, the development, training, equipping and maintenance of teams of environmental inspectors, traffic officers, scientists and prosecutors.
There is no discussion of who will pay to build the pipelines and infrastructure to transport gas across SA.
The applicants and our government have failed to acknowledge the bans, moratoria, and restrictions on
Shale gas mining in other places and countries. “This situation cannot simply be dismissed as originating from a handful of hysterical and emotional environmentalists and having no bearing on the SA decision.”
South Africa does not have fracking specific legislation. American regulations based on American laws cannot be imported into SA courts.
The economic model commissioned, paid for and propagated by Shell and apparently endorsed by the government, fails to address even one cost. Shale gas is measured in decades. Sustainable activities, which, on the face of it, in a direct short-term comparison with shale gas, are less impressive, ought to be measured for their long term, renewable potential. The jobs, production revenue and food security value of vegetables, meat, wool, tourism, wine, olives, honey and even the value of fresh drinking water should be calculated in much longer periods than decades. A comparison on this basis may introduce much needed perspective. “The present model is akin to planning a new business by calculating only the profit on sales, and ignoring input costs.”
“In summary of these facts, it is my position that there are no quick fixes for South Africa. For our government to license exploration in the light of these unresolved issues, knowing and planning that it will open the door to full scale production, is ill-considered and irresponsibly risks the sustainability of future generations.”
Addressing the pillars on which our government's view appeared to rest, Deal observed that the economics had not been adequately or even independently researched. He argued that the figures forwarded thus far, even though cleverly reduced to a fraction of the assumed gas reserves, were useless in the absence of a comparison against real costs, and the economic losses associated with the disruption - actual or potential - of sustainable economic activity.
Commenting on the industry propagated theory that ‘cleaner-burning’ shale gas would solve much of SA’s emissions problems, he cited a November 2012 report from Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) that shows that global carbon emissions need to fall by 5.1% PA, and that shale gas can at best achieve 3%. PWC also stated that there is a clear indication that the pursuit of shale gas is going to delay the onset of renewable energy and green technologies, and lock developing nations into a dependence on fossil fuels.
“World joins South Africans in fight against fracking” September 10, 2012
Monday, September 10, 2012
World joins South Africans in fight against fracking
International groups opposed to fracking, in the USA, Europe and Australia, have rallied in support of the Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) in their fight to prevent the government from giving fracking in South Africa the green light.
“The support we have received locally and internationally since the government lifted the moratorium on fracking in South Africa on Friday (September 7) has been overwhelming,” said Jonathan Deal, Chairman of TKAG.
“It is clear that there is widespread abhorrence to this environmentally harmful, potentially polluting form of mining,” he added.
“The harm done by fracking is potentially irreversible - having a negative impact on the environment, affects the health of local communities, and does not deliver sustainably on the promises of job creation, community upliftment and energy provision as claimed by mining companies, such as Royal Dutch Shell, who despite their overt concern with ‘what is good for SA’, are only keen on growing profit,” he said.
International groups which have promised their support to TKAG include Food & Water Watch, FrackAction, Waterdefense, Attac International and Attac France, Artists Against Fracking USA, anti-fracking activists Mark Ruffalo and Josh Fox – producer of the film, Gasland, Fracking Ireland and Lock-the-Gate in Australia. Locally, TKAG is part of a strategic alliance of established NGO’s, including KZN based African Conservation Trust. Deal confirmed that TKAG had significantly also received a vote of support from the Southern Cape Land Committee (SCLC). “The SCLC is a local organisation representing the interests of rural communities. They have been independently outspoken about their opposition to fracking in South Africa.” Fracking opponents in SA are planning a national demonstration in front of Parliament on Saturday September 22nd – Global Anti-Fracking Day.
Fracking has been banned or restricted in 155 jurisdictions throughout the world.
The South African Cabinet announced on Friday that it had decided to lift the moratorium on fracking in the Karoo. The moratorium was endorsed by the SA cabinet in April 2011, followed by the appointment of a task team by minister Shabangu with the purpose of investigating fracking. She announced that the task team would focus, in particular, on the feasibility of fracking as well as its likely impact on the environment.
Since that time the task team has met in total secrecy and consistently refused to make it's composition or findings public. On Friday, September 7th, Cabinet also apparently requested the mineral resources minister to “hold a series of public consultations with interested and affected stakeholders to provide further details”.
Meanwhile, the Treasure Karoo Action Group has pledged to take the fight to oppose fracking in South Africa to the constitutional court.
“Our research, as well as a legal-scientific review of the environmental management plans (EMP’s) of the three current applicants (Royal Dutch Shell, Bundu and Falcon) has revealed fatal flaws.”
“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.
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”, said Deal.
“It is our conviction that there are other less harmful and more sustainable means – including solar – to create jobs, generate energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A sensible approach now will pay dividends for the future children of this country and enable them to meet their needs.” said Deal.
“We do not have to sacrifice our heath, well being and environment in the short term to line the pockets of foreign oil companies.”
“We simply cannot allow this threat to our water resources, our environment and the health of our communities to be carried out and we will take this fight to the highest court.”
Issued by HWB Communications on Behalf of the Treasure Action Karoo Group
for more information please call:
TKAG Chairman: Jonathan Deal: 076 838 5150
HWB: Communications: Evelyn Holtzhausen: 082 658 6007
“Anti-fracking lobby announces new legal campaign to fight government over shale gas mining” July 31, 2012
Tuesday 31 July 2012 Press Release Anti-fracking lobby announces new legal campaign to fight government over shale gas mining The Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) has refocused its legal strategy in preparation for an all out confrontation with the South African Government to prevent fracking in the Karoo. In addition the group has concluded agreements with like-minded opposition groups to form a broad alliance in opposition to fracking and will be making an announcement on this during the week. "We have engaged the well established firm of Cullinan & Associates who will bring fresh thinking and decades of experience to our approach at this critical time in our campaign", said Jonathan Deal, Chairman of the Treasure Karoo Action Group. Last year South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) imposed a moratorium on fracking with the aim of implementing a study into the environmental impact of the controversial form of shale gas extraction, which has been banned, or is under moratorium or restriction in at least 150 jurisdictions around the world. It is anticipated that DMR technical report will be presented to the Cabinet early in August 2012 after which cabinet will make its decision on whether or not to lift the moratorium and allow exploratory drilling. Companies that have applied to use the environmentally damaging process, include Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Falcon Oil & Gas Ltd. and Bundu Oil & Gas (Pty) Ltd. Fear that the licenses would be granted were raised when Energy Minister Peters noted during a recent departmental meeting that: "It would be wrong for us to not use the resources that God left us with. This is a blessing that God gives us, and we need to exploit for the benefit of the people" before noting that
the people of the Karoo were "going hungry."
"We have been preparing for the moratorium to be lifted for a long time," said Deal. "Now in the run up to the decision by government we are refocusing our efforts to present a high powered, well prepared legal campaign which we believe will halt the minster in her tracks. "For this we have selected the best legal minds that we can get to assist us to take this matter to the constitutional court if needs be." "And we believe we have the support of right thinking South Africans as we move forward.” "We are not deterred by the fact that a number of people may have been influenced by Shell's relentless pro fracking propaganda regarding the size of the gas deposit to the number of jobs that could be created." said Deal. "We also know that Shell has been less than open with the truth about the irreversible damage to the environment that fracking causes and the figures surrounding jobs.” "The Government’s dramatic reversal over e-tolling in Gauteng after massive public outcry earlier this year has shown that ordinary people are sick and tired of government riding rough-shod over the will of the people whose lives are most impacted upon by their often ill-considered decisions." Our message to government is; "if you rule in favour of fracking, under the current circumstances, prepare for a long and costly legal battle as the people who will be most affected fight back ". ends Issued by TREASURE KAROO ACTION GROUP Jonathan Deal firstname.lastname@example.org 076-838-5150 or 023-358-9902
"TKAG to SA Cabinet on Shell” July, 3 2012
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE SOUTH AFRICAN CABINET
and all elected officials in South Africa
and to Shell South Africa
July 3rd 2012
ATTENTION: Honourable Members of the Cabinet
SHELL SOUTH AFRICA ARE DECEIVING SOUTH AFRICANS
Dear fellow South African. While our country is under the protection of a moratorium on shale gas mining – imposed by yourselves – Shell South Africa continues to doggedly market their plans directly to the elected officials who are subordinate to your authority. It is significant too, that this marketing campaign by Shell is underpinned by duplicity and deceipt.
Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) are in receipt of an email from an employee in a Karoo municipality, which apart from having the name removed to ensure anonymity, is verbatim:
"[I] work for the ***** Municipality in a senior position, and am finding that as much as I would like to participate in the anti-fracking movement, it places me in a bit of a predicament at work, as Shell has gone out of its way to gain our Council's support and with all their promises of socio-economic development, they have also made an impression on the masses. I had one of Shell's people in my office yesterday and they are now going to target Ward Committee members and NGOs. This whole thing makes me sick.
"Unfortunately the marginalized communities are being promised jobs ~ lots of them ~ and all sorts of other wonderful social and economic benefits. Community leaders and local organizations are being targeted and I can guarantee you, they will be influenced to support fracking, no matter at what cost. The whole thing has been politicized and it will be driven at that level.”
As a key stakeholder in the debate surrounding shale gas mining in South Africa, it is our responsibility and our privilege to bring to your attention that the so-called facts about fracking and Shell’s own operations – as put out by Shell, are peppered with material untruths. Specifically, the areas of job creation, water contamination, pollution and environmental damage are misrepresented to you and the elected officials who serve our country. Any person who has been exposed to the Shell campaign in our country is at risk of regarding fracking as a harmless process that has nothing but great benefits for SA.
We are in possession of evidence, which we are ready to provide in any forum, which will show that Shell SA has been untruthful with South Africa.
We appeal to you to apply great caution in your imminent decision on whether or not to grant Shell and others licences to explore for shale gas in this country, at least until there has been far more detailed investigation and meaningful public consultation.
“SHELL SUSPENDS OPERATIONS ON US FRACKING SITE – NEARBY RESIDENTS EVACUATED” June 22, 2012
US Media reports have confirmed on June 21st 2012 that Shell have suspended operations in Union Township, Tioga County while they contain and investigate methane and water releases around the Guindon K 706 well pad. A report filed on the website ‘STATEIMPACT’ confirmed: ‘An update on Shell’s potential methane migration problem in Tioga County: Shell company spokeswoman Kelly op de Weegh says a well control team has been called in to help.
“We have both a groundwater protection technical team and a well control team actively working on the origin and cause of the water and methane release. As a precaution, we have suspended our well completion work on the well pads in the area. The release – from and near water wells within a hunting club – is not located on any of our well sites. We are depressurizing gas wells in the larger area in order to reduce pressure subsurface. We’re also working operations around the water wells, including excavation in a secured, control zone.”
In 2011 Shell experienced similar problems with gas migration, when according to a report in the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, a Charleston Township family's experience with natural gas drilling became the latest story of contaminated well water associated with nearby drilling on the Vandegrift 290 well site. The Gazette reports:
“… Jeremiah Gee, a doctorate candidate at Penn State University lives next door to land that has been leased to Shell for drilling, Gee confirmed that a gas drilling site appeared about 100 yards from a pond on his property and that shortly thereafter the family noticed a change in its well water.
Gee said six natural gas wells have been drilled from the one pad. "They call the whole process of completion activities a cycle," he said he was told by Shell officials. "They go to the end of a horizontal hole, perforate it, frack it, plug it and then move back and repeat the process a dozen or more times…" he added.
Shell had just started perforating two of the bores when the Gees noticed a difference in their water.
Gee said Shell did not stop operations on the wells until the fact that his family could light their tap water on fire was brought to the attention of the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Shell began taking steps to "mitigate" the problem.
Gee said the family has spoken to everyone involved with Shell from "the average Joe on up to the operations manager," with less than satisfactory results.
In response to the Gee's dilemma resulting from Vandegrift 290, Shell Communications Specialist Kim Windon, of Warrendale, said that "safety is always priority No. 1."
"There have been issues (with the Gee's water) and we regret any disruption or inconvenience to the family, but as soon as we were aware of the problem, it was important for us to react promptly, responsibly and safely."
“… We are still working to identify the potential source (of the methane)," she said, "but we think that it may have migrated from a shallower Devonian natural gas formation, close to the well pad. Shell has prepared a shallow remediation plan to address the source, and we are looking forward to a conclusive fact based solution," she said.
The Williamsport Sun-Gazette confirmed that Shell representatives met with DEP and presented a remediation plan and enhanced environmental and safety controls …..”
In response to these two incidents involving Shell, Treasure Karoo Action Group observed that it was clear that Shell are not as on top of their game as they claim to be, and that Shell executives have made misleading or untrue statements to South Africans in their marketing of shale gas to SA. “If these incidents occur in South Africa, they can pollute Karoo water aquifers. Water that cannot be regenerated within ten years, given the low rainfall in the area, and if the pollution involves chemicals – as claimed by Prof. van Tonder of the University of Orange Free State, the aquifer may be permanently destroyed. Furthermore, Shell have claimed to be the leaders in their field - if this is true, what could South Africa expect from less ‘competent’ drilling companies who would also qualify for licences to explore and frack?”, asked TKAG chair, Jonathan Deal. “It appears to us that there are still many unanswered questions around Shell’s transparency and competence, and in connection with the technology of fracking in general. Developing news on this latest incident suggests that the problem is far greater than Shell’s classification of it being a ‘methane migration problem’. We emphasize our concern about the lack of expertise and capacity in SA to monitor and regulate an industry that is clearly presenting a major challenge to US environmental organisations. Our government would be well advised to apply the precautionary principle to their decision to allow Shell and others to explore for shale gas in SA.”
In 2011, between February and August, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental protection, Shell were cited for more than 30 environmental violations on fracking sites in the Marcellus shale area.
Meanwhile Chesapeake Energy has agreed to pay $1.6 million in damages to three families in Wyalusing, Bradford County. The case may be the first Marcellus contamination lawsuit to get resolved without a nondisclosure agreement, meaning the parties can speak freely about the case. Todd O’Malley, an attorney for two of the families, says the plaintiffs insisted on not signing a confidentiality agreement. MORE ON THIS FROM TKAG SOON
Issued by Treasure Karoo Action Group.
For information, please contact: Jonathan Deal, chairman: TKAG
email@example.com Tel: 076 838 5150/023 358 9902
“National Planning Commission advice to President Zuma is flawed” June 20, 2012
“National Planning Commission advice to President Zuma is flawed”
These were the words of Treasure Karoo Action Group chairman, Jonathan Deal in response to a reported statement by the NPC last Friday in which that body advised President Zuma to allow shale gas exploration. “TKAG has met with the NPC and we have a good idea on the information on which their advice to President Zuma is based. It has not been established, in any country in the world, that turning to shale gas as an energy source will reduce greenhouse gas emissions to anywhere near the extent claimed by the oil and gas industry. Nor has the NPC, or any other body in SA moved towards conducting a proper cost-benefit analysis of shale gas within the social, environmental, economic and scientific spectrum,” said Deal.
He argued that “In our view it is bordering on irresponsible, for a body with the clout enjoyed by the NPC to make statements on such an important decision without having fully researched all of the issues. To simply extrapolate the potential energy figures from US estimates and focus on job creation and revenue, based on reports commissioned and paid for by Royal Dutch Shell is short-sighted. There is no answer by Shell or our government, as to why, in more than 146 locations around the world, tens of millions of people - many of whom have experienced the effects of fracking - do not want shale gas mining where they get their drinking water, grow their crops, raise animals, and send their children to school.”
“Moreover”, added Deal, “Recent groundbreaking research by well known geo-hydrologist, Professor Gerrit van Tonder of the Institute of Groundwater Studies, University of the Free State, claims that owing to the unique geology of the Karoo basin, it is a given that pollution of shallow drinking water aquifers will occur over a given period of time. To even obliquely consider exploration – which would realistically lead to full scale fracking - in these unresolved circumstances is to completely ignore the legal requirement, as stipulated in SA’s National Environmental Management Act, of applying the precautionary principle, to decisions where environmental damage can result.”
“Southern Africa has seen a remarkable increase in proven off-shore natural gas reserves and has some of the best solar irradiation on the planet. These two energy sources can also create jobs and generate energy without the risk of polluting the scarce water reserves of SA, damaging the growing tourism industry, and displacing food production from the Karoo and other rural areas – all in pursuit of what is ultimately an unsustainable process. There appears to be a perception that the fantastic figures promised by Shell will solve our problems immediately – but no one is telling the SA public that it would take at least ten to twelve years for the so-called benefits to work their way into the SA economy – and by that time other energy sources could be well up and running, he concluded.
"SA scientist confirms shale wells will pollute groundwater" May 29, 2012
“Prof van Tonder’s statement on the upward migration of fracking fluid into drinking water aquifers is literally ground breaking for South Africa.” These were the words of Treasure Karoo Action Group chairman Jonathan Deal, responding to a report released by Prof. Gerrit van Tonder, of the Institute for Groundwater Studies, University of the Free State.
There is nothing ambiguous about the Professor’s statements – upward migration of fracking fluids to groundwater zones will occur in the Karoo, and cement and steel well casings will inevitably deteriorate and fail over time. According to van Tonder’s calculations, if only 1% of the cement and steel casings of wells to be drilled over the applied area were to fail, it would create thousands of pathways for upward migration to occur. It is not enough for industry to quote a period of 100 years or more for the integrity of a well – this may sound like a long time today, but is actually only the sum of two generations of South Africans,” argued Deal, adding that “These facts are routinely denied or avoided by the applicants to frack in SA and by the oil and gas industry worldwide. We wonder, if for instance, this information is contained within the task team report, which is by all accounts, completed and soon on its way to Cabinet.”
Deal was speaking from a conference in Johannesburg hosted by the Fossil Fuel Foundation, where he appeared as a presenter and member of the conference technical committee alongside well known scientists Professors Philip Lloyd of Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and Dr. Danie Vermeulen of the Institute for Groundwater Studies.
Deal pointed out that TKAG had long been calling for a comprehensive assessment of fracking in SA across the scientific, environmental, social and economic spectrum, and emphasised that TKAG were extremely concerned about the conspicuous rush of the government to embrace fracking, and the delivery of what could only be an inadequate and poorly researched task team report to Cabinet. “If Minister Shabangu issues licences, even for exploration under these circumstances, she will literally guarantee litigation involving government, the applicants to frack and the South African tax payer.
Scientists from the Institute for Groundwater Studies have been consulted by the government task team on fracking and by the oil and gas industry in SA in connection with plans to mine shale gas here, and Prof. van Tonder has appeared as an expert speaker on this topic at shale gas conferences and presentations to industry and media.
Issued by HWB Communications Pty Ltd, on behalf of Treasure Karoo Action Group.
For information, please contact: Jonathan Deal, chairman: TKAG
firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 076 838 5150/023 358 9902
“Karoo lobby group criticizes statements by Energy Minister” May 16, 2012
May 16 2012
Karoo lobby group criticizes statements by Energy Minister
Responding to an article by Donwald Pressley, published in Business Report, May 16, TKAG chairman, Jonathan Deal said that the statements by Minister Peters were short on facts and long on assumptions.
“Minister Peters appears to be of the impression that the Department of Science and Technology has developed a method of shale gas mining that will facilitate fracking without environmental damage and water pollution. This notion is difficult to comprehend, especially in the face of growing international resistance to fracking, which is now banned or under some form of moratorium or restriction in more than 140 places, with Czech Republic Germany and Romania presently considering two-year moratoria on exploration whilst they investigate the technology. The US state of Vermont is also poised to outlaw the process”, said Deal.
Addressing the Minister’s statements, reputedly made at an oil and gas conference on May 15, Deal asserted that the Minister appeared to be simply repeating what had been told to South Africans by Royal Dutch Shell and the oil and gas lobby about shale gas mining. “The reality is that not one of the considerable ancillary risks and costs to South Africa, from shale gas mining have been appropriately addressed by our government in their increasingly frequent utterances on fracking. There has been no public attempt whatsoever to quantify the long term costs (of fracking) to this country,” he said.
“Tourism, damage to roads and traffic control, agriculture, health, environmental monitoring and enforcement and jobs lost due to displaced rural workers seem to be issues that our government is willing to overlook in their rush to set fracking loose in South Africa. By focusing on water as the single issue and extolling energy and revenue benefits, our leaders appear to be deliberately ignoring these critical concerns which are unanswered in other countries,” added Deal.
“As far as we are aware, there is no honest explanation from our government or Royal Dutch Shell, as to why tens of millions of people in other countries, represented by their governments, choose to forego the so-called benefits of fracking. Until governments around the world, including our own Ministers, can answer this question conclusively it is our view that fracking should remain under a moratorium in SA,” concluded Deal.
Issued by HWB Communications Pty Ltd, on behalf of Treasure Karoo Action Group.
For information, please contact: Jonathan Deal, chairman: TKAG
email@example.com Tel: 023 358 9902 / 076 838 5150
"Global shale gas moratoriums increase while SA Minister procrastinates" May, 9 2012
“While our government is scrambling to produce a secret document on which this country may make a potentially irreversible decision on shale gas mining ‘fracking’, international sentiment is increasing against the technology. Fracking is banned, or under some form of moratorium or restriction in more than 140 places around the world.” These were the words of TKAG chair, Jonathan Deal who was reacting to a report published May 8 in Moneyweb. According to Moneyweb, the Minister has stated that she intends to submit the report on shale gas mining to Cabinet in July.
“It appears to TKAG, that the Minister has misunderstood the instructions of Cabinet in August 2011, when Cabinet in an unequivocal statement instructed the Minister to [L]ead a multi disciplinary team including the Departments of Trade & Industry , Science and Technology, amongst others, to fully research the full implications of the proposed fracking.” The original team chosen by the Minister does not give effect to the expectation of a ‘multi-disciplinary team’ as it excluded Ministries whose input is critical to a thorough investigation into the costs and benefits of shale gas mining. Departments such as Health, Transport, Agriculture, Tourism, Rural Development, and initially, even Environmental Affairs were excluded. We also have grave reservations about the time period in which Minister Shabangu purports to have completed the investigation, the scientific expertise of the team, the amount of research conducted and the areas of research and scientific data applied,” said Deal.
“America, is taking four years to complete a similar investigation, the second time around. We are puzzled as to how SA can accomplish this in much less than a year, sans essential input from directly affected departments, and from the other side of the Atlantic. The manner in which this process is being managed and the fact that TKAG had to sue the Minister for information to which any citizen was entitled, is causing our apprehension of the Shell – ANC link to increase.”
During 2012 Shell released various reports to the public which made claims regarding alleged public opinion, and of claimed vast benefits to SA from shale gas mining. Commenting on the reports Deal said “The Minister must surely be aware that her department must issue or decline exploration licences on the facts contained within the written applications of Shell, Bundu and Falcon – these reports are not only biased and inaccurate, they are premature and should be ignored. TKAG has repeatedly requested a thorough cost-benefit analysis of shale gas mining for SA. This process cannot ignore knock-on costs to roads, health, tourism and other revenue centres as well as the sustainable value of our agricultural sector and the rand value and scarcity of drinking water. We deplore the lack of transparency and the narrow focus of Minister Shabangu in managing a process of such import to present and future South Africans”
Issued by HWB Communications Pty Ltd, on behalf of the Treasure Karoo Action Group.Tel: 021 462 0416/ 079 500 1503 For information, please contact: Jonathan Deal Chairman: TKAG
firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 076 838 5150/ 023 358 9902
"Karoo group cautions NPC on fracking" March 15, 2012
The National Planning Commission is wrong to consider mining for shale gas in the Karoo when there are more viable, known gas deposits to be exploited, which will be far less threatening to the environment.
This is the view of TKAG Chairman, Jonathan Deal, in response to a report by Minister Trevor Manuel that the NPC saw natural gas providing a rising share of the energy mix.
"Natural gas undoubtedly has a role to play in the energy mix of South Africa. Deposits such as the 2.5tcf (trillion cubic feet) held by Forest Exploration International off South Africa’s west coast is a prime example of a supply that could keep the Western Cape in gas for decades. "
"And this is miniscule compared to the reported finds off Mozambique", he added.
"And Royal Dutch Shell are making plans to explore off-shore in the Orange River basin"
According to Deal, "The point is that South Africa has a viable alternative to fracking. Offshore, natural gas can be developed faster and bypass the plethora of strategic and environmental issues that are facing proponents of shale gas mining”.
“TKAG met with the NPC in February and highlighted a number of concerns in relation to the debate on whether or not it would be in the interests of SA to pursue this technology. Notwithstanding any other of the issues raised at this meeting, the inescapable fact that Minister Shabangu’s task team has taken less than 6 months to complete an investigation that is taking America four years, militates against the issue of exploration licences in SA.”
"Our Cabinet promised in April 2011 that ‘the full implications’ of shale gas mining would be ‘fully investigated’ and that ‘clean environment together with all the ecological aspects will not be compromised’.
“It would be irresponsible of any person with an understanding of the real facts of shale gas mining to stand by and permit the technology to be licensed in this country until a thorough strategic evaluation and a cost-benefit analysis have been completed”.
"Even Shell’s own consultants recommended that no decision should be made before the Americans had decided in their own country”, concluded Deal.
"Demand to "shelve" shale gas fracking - for now" March 6, 2012
“We call on Minister Shabangu, to indefinitely extend the moratorium on shale gas mining, and on Royal Dutch Shell, Bundu and Falcon Oil & Gas to shelve their plans for shale gas mining at this time pending a thorough and inclusive strategic environmental assessment, underpinned by a detailed cost-benefit analysis.”
This was the call from South African lobby, Treasure Karoo Action Group.
Chairman, Jonathan Deal stated that TKAG would not accept a ‘rushed investigation into fracking’, pressured by Shell propaganda. “Assertions that shale gas will solve South Africa’s energy, employment and Greenhouse Gas emissions, are subject to scientific controversy and ought to be thoroughly tested,” he said.
“In April last year, our Cabinet issued Minister Shabangu with unequivocal instructions with regard to fracking, and we expect the Minister to give effect to those instructions. The status quo in parts of America and other countries where fracking is banned, or under various restrictions and moratoria demands serious consideration – to the extent that South Africa should not licence a process that is itself under investigation in countries where it is underway. In the event that Minister Shabangu issues exploration licences under the current status quo, we will look to the courts for protection.”
"TKAG rejects Economic report on shale gas" March 3, 2012
Responding to a press release from Econometrix on the assumed benefits of shale gas for South Africa, TKAG Chair, Jonathan Deal, described the report as poorly researched in respect of the holistic facts on shale gas mining and lacking in substance. “The fact that this report has been commissioned by Shell earnestly dents the credibility of the document. Shell, at the same time that they were telling the South African public how open, honest and transparent they are, were cited for 37 environmental violations at fracking sites in Pennsylvania between February and August last year,” he said.
“It is remarkable that in the light of current scientific and economic controversy in the US around the so-called cost-benefits of shale gas, Econometrix have the confidence to assume this position. The findings are lacking in balance to the extent that one must call the objectivity and credibility of the analysis into question”.
“Nowhere is there a reference to jobs that may be lost due to mining activity. The study lists knock-on benefits, but does not make any attempt to quantify the knock-on costs to South Africans – relating to damaged road infrastructure, health remediation costs, pollution remediation and environmental monitoring and enforcement of standards – to mention a few areas.”
“If this report were to be taken seriously, South Africa’s energy, employment and Green House Gas emissions challenges are a thing of the past. Interestingly, the team at Sasol appear to disagree with these findings – the global fuel company withdrew last November, from plans to frack in South Africa, stating that in their opinion “shale gas is twenty years too early in SA,” argued Deal.
In closing, Deal said that; “TKAG has been calling for a thorough cost-benefit analysis framed in a strategic environmental assessment since the advent of applications by Shell et al. It should be remembered that the legal and environmental process will run its course before any drilling activity, even exploration, can be lawfully licensed. The status quo with the three current applicants, in the opinion of TKAG, is that their final environmental management plans are flawed and will not stand up to scientific scrutiny. Moreover, Minister Shabangu has a clear instruction from Cabinet regarding the moratorium on fracking and that is that Cabinet has made it very clear that clean environment together with all the ecological aspects will not be compromised”
“Fracking survey results questioned” February 20, 2012
Local anti-fracking lobby, Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) today dismissed the results of an IPSOS Markinor opinion survey, as to whether or not South Africans want fracking.
Jonathan Deal, chairman of TKAG stated, “On the face of it, and without an untimely debate on this technical and controversial technology, we dismiss the report results on, inter alia, the following points:
1. The technology of hydraulic fracturing, even when explained to an audience generally more informed than a randomly selected interviewee, is technical and challenging to describe. We reject the implied premise that the process can be introduced in a short space of time on the basis of introductory or contextual statements. In support of this argument, we offer our own experience in public meetings hosted by Shell, during which the explanation of fracking consumed, in some instances, almost two hours. We are doubtful that the sampled persons were afforded this opportunity.
2. The issues raised as questions for interviewees appear to address only the very broadly debated points of energy, jobs, water and pollution. Other equally important aspects and risks relating to hydraulic fracturing appear not to have been raised, or considered.
3. There appears to be no mention made of the fact that in September of 2011 fracking was banned or under some form of moratorium or restriction in almost 100 places. It would perhaps have been a relevant question to ask interviewees if they had any idea as to why the technology would be so unpopular with people living close to it, in view of the so-called benefits of job creation and energy.
4. In our view, the fact that Shell are listed as having commissioned the report throws a negative light on the results. Shell are recorded in South Africa in 2011, as having being found in breach of advertising standards by propagating false and misleading statements about fracking to the South African public. We suggest that it would have been prudent of Shell to include NGO’s such as TKAG in the planning of the survey, and especially the wording of the introductory text and questions.
5. South Africa is in the middle of the ‘fact-based’ phase of an investigation into shale gas mining, in terms of which the Minister of Minerals and her ‘task team’ will be required to arrive at a recommendation for Cabinet, as to whether or not to licence fracking in SA. This means that Minister Shabangu must base her recommendations only on the contents of the final Environmental Management Plans as submitted by the applicants. Opinion polls and certain value-based statements by proponents or opponents of fracking, that fail to appropriately and factually address the issues to be considered by Minister Shabangu are irrelevant for the purposes of informing the minister’s decision on exploration licences. If the debate, through legal action or other processes, finds it’s way to the Constitutional Court – the forum on which our public rely in law for their opinion to be heard, then the ‘value-based’ opinion of the South African public will be of relevance.
6. Even were the reported results of the survey, against shale gas mining, we would have to reject the results on the basis of our argument.”
"International anti-fracking coalition established" February 16, 2012
“A bridge has been built between the United States and South Africa in the global anti-fracking movement”. This according to US actor Mark Ruffalo, who revealed that anti-fracking lobby group Water Defense and South African Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) have formalized their relationship. Ruffalo confirmed that he had accepted a position on the board of TKAG and that TKAG chairman, Jonathan Deal would join the board of Water Defense.
“Fracking is a global threat and it requires a global response. A year ago, because of what was happening in the US, South Africans were able to alert their government to the risks of fracking, and they succeeded in putting the brakes on the process in their country. Now there is international interest in what happens with licence applications to frack in South Africa”, said Ruffalo. We intend to cooperate with and support TKAG on all levels, including ensuring that fundraising efforts are directed where they are most needed. It is a fact that environmental NGO’s have to oppose global giant corporations who have virtually unlimited budgets to push their corporate agendas. We believe that this first bridge will result in an effective global coalition between continents, countries and ordinary people opposing fracking”.
TKAG chairman, Jonathan Deal commented that the development was ‘one of the most exciting accomplishments in the anti-fracking fight’, and that it ‘considerably enhanced’ the local lobby group’s ability to oppose fracking in South Africa.
About Water Defense
The American NGO connects the dots between the movements working to stop mountain top removal, hydro fracking, tar sands mining, and other destructive practices that threaten our dwindling global supply of clean water. Founded by actor Mark Ruffalo, Water Defense engages renowned cultural figures, produces educational events, and informs the public, through traditional and social media to raise awareness, drive policy change, and end our fossil fuel addiction by demanding sustainable solutions. Additional information at www.waterdefense.org
As at February 16 2012 fracking is banned or under some form of moratorium or restriction in 108 places and 5 countries. [ABOUT TKAG: Treasure the Karoo Action Group represents a broad range of stakeholders who are concerned with the plans of Oil and Mining companies to extract shale gas from the Karoo basin. Popular support can be followed and joined on Facebook and at the web address www.treasurethekaroo.co.za]
Issued by Water Defense, 28 Marcy Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11211.
Email: Ms. Betta Broad - email@example.com
In South Africa:
HWB Communications Pty Ltd - Tel: +27 21 462 0416
Email: Jonathan Deal - firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel +27 76 838 5150
"Minister of Minerals files papers at the 11th hour" January 31, 2012
Treasure Karoo Action Group chairman Jonathan Deal, confirmed that Minister of Minerals Susan Shabangu filed her answering affidavit in Pretoria today. "We have been calling for information regarding the task team since April last year and thus we are pleased by the fact that we have now received some form of response from Minister Shabangu, albeit at the eleventh hour and in the form of an answering affidavit, said Deal.
"It is a pity that we had to sue the Minister to have her explain her position to us but at least we are now one step closer to enabling South Africans to have access to information that may dramatically affect certain of their basic human rights. We are now merely waiting on our legal team to consider the arguments contained in the Minister's papers before we take our next step towards removing the veil of secrecy that has for many months been surrounding the task team on hydraulic fracturing," he concluded.
As at this date fracking is banned or under some form of moratorium or restriction in a minimum of 97 places, including 6 countries.
"Canadian fracking blowout sends dire warning to SA" January 17, 2012
A fracking well blow-up in a well in Canada ought to be seen as a warning shot fired across the bows of fracking in South Africa.
This is the opinion of Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) group Chairman, Jonathan Deal who said; “This incident demonstrates precisely why we have raised serious concerns about fracking in South Africa. We simply cannot allow any threat to South Africa’s water resources, never mind the other very real dangers this process offers.”
Fracking is currently banned or under some form of moratorium or restriction in more than 90 places, including five countries.
"Here we have a situation where people in North America and Canada are, on a daily basis are force to live with polluting incidents and accidents. There can be no possible justification for the South African government to invest any more time on even considering fracking in this country until issues such as these have been settled by scientific consensus and an inclusive national debate,” said Deal.
"If the South African government lifts the moratorium and issues any form of exploration licence for fracking under the current circumstances, the only recourse open to TKAG will be to seek the protection of our courts.”
The TKAG is opposed to fracking in South Africa before independent comprehensive scientific research has been conducted, showing exactly what the impact of fracking could be.
Deal's comments relate to a widely reported well blowout on January 13 in Calgary, Canada. The blowout is currently being investigated by the provincial energy regulator (ERCB) in Canada.
In this incident, fracking fluid, under pressure from a well belonging to another company travelled through fault lines and fissures until it breached an older well hundreds of metres away, causing the fluid [under pressure] to blow out of that well.
Cara Tobin, board spokeswoman for the Canadian government said, “(my) understanding is that it appeared the fracking process affected the other well”. The ERCB admitted to press, “[E]RCB is aware of similar incidents of "communication" between wells as a result of fracking”.
‘Communication’ is an event in which the fracking process creates pressure, which escapes into an underground fault system.
“The fluids used to achieve the fracking process then travel along natural fissures and weaknesses in surrounding rock until they migrate into an area where the pressure is absorbed. In this case, the path was to a well hundreds of metres away, and according to reports the different pressure caused that well to blowout,” said Deal.
Meanwhile, a retired Canadian mining engineer, Don Bester, who currently chairs the Alberta Surface Rights Group, said, “We’re concerned that these things are going to start damaging aquifers. If they hit another well, like this one here, what if they [communicate] and put all that frac (sic) fluid into an aquifer and destroy it?”.
Bester is concerned that ‘[frack propagate out so far that if they hit one of these natural fracture systems, they will just follow the natural channel straight up from a high pressure zone to a low pressure zone.’ And his view is supported by Matt Horne, a director of the Pembina Institute – a Canadian Environmental think-tank - “Incidents like this and the recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study about activities in Wyoming, all add weight to concerns being raised about hydraulic fracturing.”
"Court victory for Karoo anti-fracking group" January 9, 2012
Minerals Minister Susan Shabangu has until January 31, this year to reveal the names and details of the government "task team" appointed to probe fracking in the Karoo.
Today (January 9) Judge du Plessis, in the North Gauteng High Court, granted an order that the Minister and the Director-General must file answering affidavits by no later than 31 January 2012.
The Minister was also instructed to pay costs.
Jonathan Deal, Chairperson of the Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG), which is calling for detailed, independent scientific research before licenses are granted to oil companies to frack for gas in the Karoo, said the decision was a "victory" for all South Africans. The TKAG first wrote to the Minister requesting information regarding the task team in April last year.
"In spite of various letters to the Minister, as well as making formal application for access to the relevant information under the PAIA, the Minister declined to answer TKAG's questions regarding the task team.
"Finally, the judiciary has given a ruling that may well, as a minimum, force the Minister to explain her reluctance as regards granting access to the relevant information,” said Deal.
"Our persistence and courage in standing up against government and the oil industry has paid off.
"But this is by no means the end of our struggle to force the government and oil companies to act responsibly.
"We cannot allow fracking to go ahead when there are so many unanswered questions not least about health and the possibility of irreversible pollution of underground water resources," said Deal.
* Deal appealed to South Africans to help fund the TKAG. "We have limited resources and need as much assistance as we can get to compel the government and the oil companies to act responsibly, " he said.
"Alarming study finds "fracking" chemicals in groundwater" December 12, 2011
Water pollution report sends shockwaves through shale gas industry
In a shock report that has sent shockwaves through the global oil and gas industry, the US Environmental Protection Agency has found fracking as the likely source of contamination of groundwater in the state of Wyoming, USA.
The finding is based on a three-year study of groundwater contamination near the town of Pavillion.
The deep water well monitoring study found that synthetic chemicals, such as glycols and alcohols consistent with gas production had been detected as well as hydraulic fracturing fluids, including highly noxious benzene concentrations well above Safe Drinking Water Act standards. The study also reported high methane levels.
The EPA said in the report that it is "concerned about the movement of contaminants within the aquifer and the safety of drinking water wells over time."
The report included the EPA findings on Private and Public Drinking Water Wells in the Pavillion area of Wyoming and confirmed that 'chemicals detected in the most recent samples are consistent with those identified in earlier EPA samples and include methane, other petroleum hydrocarbons and other chemical compounds."
“The presence of these compounds is consistent with migration from areas of gas production"
Treasure Karoo Action Group chairman, Jonathan Deal said, "This report is enormously significant in the debate on hydraulic fracturing in South Africa."
There are more than a thousand cases, especially in the US, where fracking is blamed for groundwater contamination, but the oil and gas industry consistently claim that that they are unaware of any documented cases.
"The industry hides behind jargon and avoids the facts that are generally accepted and in the public realm."
"After this damning report, which follows other simmilar reports, it is no longer possible for those championing fracking to make the claim that they are unaware of documented cases of groundwater contamination," he concluded.
(for more details of report see:http://yourdemocracy.net.au/drupal/node/14087)
"Leaked US report reveals 'ominous' impact on roads from fracking" December 7, 2011
A confidential US report on the transport impact of fracking has direct and dire implications for South Africa.
This is the opinion of Jonathan Deal, Chairman of the Treasure Karoo Action Group, which is calling on government to do proper research before allowing fracking to take place in the Karoo in particular and South Africa in general.
His comments follow a “leaked” New York State Department of Transport (NYSDOT) report claiming that the potential transport impact of fracking is “ominous.”
The report was prepared for discussion in the office of the Governor of New York State, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC).
“Assuming current gas drilling technology and a lower level of development than will be experienced in Pennsylvania, the Marcellus region will see a peak year increase of up to 1,5-million heavy truck trips, and induced development may increase peak hour trips by 36,000 trips per hour.”
Commenting on the conclusions of the report, Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) chair, Jonathan Deal said “We flagged this concern as just one of many potential impacts on South African tax payers months ago.
This information supports the call by concerned South Africans for a wide-ranging investigation into the sustainability and suitability of shale gas for this country. Royal Dutch Shell claim that shale gas will solve South Africa’s energy, employment and emission problems, but we have a different view based on the experiences of other countries and the empirical data that emerges on a daily basis.”
He said that TKAG would forward a copy of the report to the office of the Minister of Transport in South Africa.
TKAG concluded that it was regrettable that Minister Susan Shabangu had elected not to share the work of the ‘fracking task team’ with South Africans, as ‘we have no knowledge of whether or not critical documents such as this report will be taken into account.’
The US report, not intended for public viewing, concludes: “…. It will be necessary to reconstruct hundreds of miles of roads and scores of bridges and undertake safety and operational improvements in many areas…” Addressing the financial impact just within New York State, the document confirms “… the annual [not total] costs to undertake these transportation projects range from $90 mil - $156 mil for state roads and $121 mil - $222 mil for local roads. There is no mechanism in place allowing state and local government to absorb these additional costs without major impacts to other programmes and other municipalities in the State.”
The report recently appeared on the website of the Chenango, Delaware and Otsego Gas Drilling Opposition Group and it can be viewed and downloaded at
"Anti-fracking lobby gains support in KZN" December 5, 2011
Environmental lobby group Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG), confirmed today that the national resistance to fracking had been strengthened with the addition of a KZN based team. "Craig Elstob, a Durban-based businessman, and Karoo author with strong links to the Karoo community in the Beaufort West region has agreed to join forces with TKAG," said Jonathan Deal, chair of TKAG.
"Mr Elstob has been visibly involved around the country educating farmers and the general public about the technology of fracking, and we are encouraged by this strong representation in KZN. Essentially, the functions that TKAG has developed and which we maintain at considerable effort and cost will be rolled out to the KZN community. Mr. Elstob will assume a position on the TKAG board and his support is a valuable addition to our campaign." Deal said that the fact that SASOL had recently indicated its decision not to frack in South Africa should not be a reason for KZN to believe that the fracking risk has disappeared. "As far as we are aware, if SASOL fails to make use of the exploration area, it will be available to other applicants," he said.
“Environment lobby welcomes SASOL’s decision not to frack Karoo” December 1, 2011
Sasol's decision this week not to pursue hydraulic fracturing (Fracking) for shale gas in the Karoo has been welcomed by the Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG).
The TKAG is leading the fight against the exploitation of the Karoo by mining companies before independent scientific research has been conducted.
“We welcome SASOL’s decision, particularly as the company appears to have taken time to actually listen to the people of the Karoo and acknowledge their concerns.
“Our aim is to convince Shell and other companies who have also applied for exploration rights show the same genuine concern for the people who live in the areas that they propose to exploit and whose livelihoods and health could be placed in jeopardy as a result of fracking,” said Jonathan Deal Chairman of TKAG,
“ We call on all residents of the Karoo and our supporters and members to join TKAG in congratulating SASOL on a responsible and sensitive decision. We hope that this action by a global player in the energy field will act as a wake-up call to Royal Dutch Shell and other companies who still pursue their applications to frack in South Africa.”
"Karoo action group supports youth leagues' call for investigation into fracking" November 28, 2011
Fracking is not and will never be a purely political issue that can be "owned" by any political party.
This is the opinion of Treasure Karoo Action Group, (TKAG) Chairperson Jonathan Deal who said that the technology, presently under some form of ban, moratorium or restriction at more than 80 locations word wide, and in five countries, "has the potential to impact on every person in South Africa, irrespective of political persuasion.”
Deal was responding to reports on Monday (November 28) that the Western Cape Branch of the ANC Youth League supports initiatives to investigate the viability of fracking across the province.
Fracking- a highly controversial method of extracting gas from deliberately fracturing shale deep underground - has the potential to cause huge environmental damage, including underground water pollution — and impact negatively on the health of people living in communities near drilling operatjons and in the production process.
At the weekend, according to reports, Western Cape ANC Youth League member, Luvo Makasi — following an ANCYL regional general councils' meeting — said that the league supports initiatives to investigate the viability of fracking across the province…”
“We are pleased to note that the ANCYL appears only to have spoken of investigating the viability of fracking. This dovetails with the recent legal action launched by TKAG against the Minister of Minerals in connection with her department’s refusal to share information relating to fracking with the general public.”
“We have been expecting the question of fracking to emerge in a political statement for some months, and are of the view that it is to the credit of our government that there has been no political pronouncement on it thus far.”
"The statement by the ANCYL, does not, in our view, take a firm stance in favour of fracking going ahead, but calls rather for further study or investigation.”
"As the TKAG recently pointed out, even the NPC is not in a position to make a judgement call on this highly controversial technology in South Africa at this time.”
"We believe that it will be years, rather than months, before the scientific facts have been thoroughly evaluated in this country, and only after that can a rational decision about fracking be made,“ concluded Deal.
All existing and future applications to apply any form of fracking in South Africa are presently under a Cabinet sanctioned moratorium.
Hold on controversial plans to mine Karoo for gas "must be extended" November 23, 2011
The moratorium on shale gas mining in the Karoo ought to be extended pending a rigorous national strategic assessment of the technology and it's implications for South Africa.
This was the consensus at a debate yesterday (November 22) in Port Elizabeth titled, Strategic Conversations - Fracking in the Karoo.
The event, hosted by the business school of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) was the first of its kind in the country, effectively juxtaposing environmental lobby group Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) against Royal Dutch Shell, with qualified contribution from NMMU Prof Maarten De Witt and Mr. Andrew Muir, Chair of Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber and CEO of the Wilderness Foundation.
Jonathan Deal, chairman of TKAG, De Witt and Muir in their opening statements, voiced their belief that the technology of fracking and any applications to mine shale gas must remain on ice for an extended period on the basis of the unknown implications of fracking in South Africa.
"This controversial technology requires multiple and independent lines of scientific analysis, a meaningful public awareness campaign by government and an inclusive national strategic debate facilitated by an independent government task team.
"Taking into account the current state of misinformation and the refusal of the DMR to cooperate with requests for information, we are of the view that it would be unlawful for the minister to issue an exploration licence," said Deal.
Prof. De Witt, a geo-hydrologist, called for a minimum extension to the moratorium of two to three years and suggested that the oil and gas companies should not be involved in any phase of the evaluation of the technology during the moratorium.
De Witt added that if and when the process of exploration began, the companies would need to be independently supervised by experts because they could not be trusted to police their own operations.
He concluded by saying that an area which had thus far been absent from this debate was the 'absolutely enormous impact' on social services that would result from 'not thousands, but hundreds of thousands of trucks' running through the Karoo, which presented social challenges and opportunities.
There was focus during the debate on Royal Dutch Shell and their persistence in denying that the company is not aware of even one instance of pollution of groundwater from fracking.
Speaking directly to Jan-Willem Eggink, Shell Upstream manager for Africa, Deal said "It is time for Shell to stop hiding behind the trite industry claim of 1 million wells over sixty years and not one problem.”
"I put it to you that no one can do any mechanical operation over 60 years, a million times in a row without making even one error."
"There are many documented instances of pollution from fracking, and for Shell to continue to deny this does little to alleviate our distrust of the oil and gas industry."
Deal said "the statistic of 1 million wells does not belong to Shell alone, with the biggest single driller in the US - Chesapeake having done only 4100 wells in which horizontal fracking was applied."
The debate was moderated by Prof Piet Naude and attended by members of the public and the academic fraternity, including the Vice Chancellor of NMMU, Prof Derrick Swartz, the head of the business school, Prof. Burgess and Prof. Paul Poisat.
For more information please contact:
Chairman - Treasure Karoo Action Group
cell: 076 838 5150
"NPC out of line" November 14, 2011
“The statements by the National Planning Commission in connection with shale gas mining are premature, unfortunate, and enter the completely unsettled debate from a weak position.” This is the view of Treasure Karoo Action Group, TKAG chairman Jonathan Deal, who added that it borders on irresponsibility by the NPC team to make sweeping pronouncements on a technology on which ‘the jury is still out’ around the world.
Hydraulic fracturing, (fracking) is presently under a full moratorium in South Africa, as well as in four other countries and at least 80 other locations around the world. The specialist task team convened by Minister Shabangu on the instructions of our full Cabinet, is yet to report back to the minister who only then may approach Cabinet for a decision on fracking. “In other words, this process is far from over, requiring in our view, an independent scientific investigation of at least the time frame involved in the US – which is four years,” said Deal.
For a presidentially sanctioned body of highly regarded thought leaders in our country to have released the statements that they have, at this time, creates the impression that our government has already made up its mind to issue licences to frack the country. “We are sure that this was not their intention. Of particular concern are the gas reserve figures on which these statements are based. We are receiving information, on a regular basis of the over estimation of gas reserves by the USGS and agencies in the UK. Estimated reserves in Pennsylvania have recently been reduced from 410tcf (trillion cubic feet) to 84tcf – an 80% reduction.”
In closing Deal referred to a few of the many unanswered questions surrounding ‘fracking’ – such as sourcing and pollution of fresh water, disposal of toxic wastewater, a dearth of mining law, lack of enforcement capability and the above-ground disruption to farming and tourism. “The NPC has failed to address any of these questions – which are absolutely fundamental to the issue at hand. We trust that this will not exacerbate an already delicate situation, in which TKAG has been forced to sue the Minister of Mineral Resources over her department’s refusal to share information on the activities of the task team).
[ABOUT TKAG: Treasure the Karoo Action Group represents a broad range of stakeholders who are concerned with the plans of Oil and Mining companies to extract shale gas from the Karoo basin. Popular support can be followed and joined on Facebook and at www.treasurethekaroo.co.za
"Shell’s credibility questioned again" September 28, 2011
“Shell’s credibility questioned again”
A lobby group has accused Shell of having no credibility when making promises to South African communities about plans for hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”).
This follows reports this week about farmers in Pennsylvania (USA) blaming Shell for the contamination of their groundwater. (“Alarm bells sound for Karoo residents after US farmer’s water supply ruined,” http://www.peherald.com/news/article/2974
Treasure Karoo Action Group chairman Jonathan Deal says Shell spokespersons have been talking to local farmers and making promises about the safety of fracking while they were aware of the incident in Pennsylvania.
“Shell staff members have told us there was not even one incident of pollution from fracking, anywhere in the world, that can be attributed to them. They made no mention of this incident in the US, in April.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has formally placed Shell on notice that it (Shell) is in breach of provisions of the Oil & Gas Act in the US.
“Of particular interest to TKAG is the claim by two South African farmers that Shell attempted to purposefully divert them away from this incident site during a visit to the United States. In any event, the truth has emerged and we sincerely hope that our government is taking note of the conduct of Shell - the most visible of all applicants to frack this country,” said Deal.
Meanwhile TKAG has welcomed the decision by Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu to cancel mining rights for the Central Rand Gold Mine on the basis of non-compliance with agreed conditions.
“It is heartening to see that Minister Shabangu is enforcing a no-nonsense approach in applying the law. This sends a very necessary message to big business that standards and values in South Africa are not for sale.”
“Fracking lobby group TKAG receives award for work done to conserve environment” August 18, 2011
Lobby group Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) will tonight (SUBS: Thursday) be honoured for its work in creating awareness about the potential dangers of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in the Karoo.
The award comes from the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA), and is awarded in the Group Category. The award will be presented to TKAG at WESSA’s 85th birthday celebration.
TKAG chairman Jonathan Deal welcomed the award. “It is a very welcome endorsement of the work we do every day, to create awareness about the potential dangers of fracking as a technology for South Africa,” he said. “We are deeply honoured to receive this award from a well respected organization such as WESSA.”
WESSA is a non-government organization, working to ensure environmental sustainability for current and future South African generations.
The award ceremony takes place at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town, at 6pm on Thursday August 18, 2011. For information on WESSA visit www.wessa.org.za or call Catherine 082 321 2794.
“TKAG forced to launch ‘Access to Info’ request about fracking task team” August 15, 2011
The Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) has invoked the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to obtain information about government’s fracking task team and its report to Cabinet.
Requests for access to information have been submitted to the Council for Geosciences, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Mineral Resources, the Department of Science and Technology, and the Petroleum Agency of South Africa.
“We have repeatedly asked Minister Shabangu to take the public into her confidence and share information about the fracking task team with TKAG and all other interested and affected South Africans, but our requests have fallen on deaf ears,” said Jonathan Deal, chairman of TKAG.
“Consequently, we have now been forced to formally request this information under the provisions of PAIA.”
The department of Mineral Resources announced earlier this year that a multi disciplinary task team would be investigating the merits of fracking, and report back to Cabinet. Since then, very little has been made public about the task team or its report.
In its requests, the TKAG asks for, amongst other things:
Terms of reference and/or instructions relating to the research to be conducted by the multi-disciplinary task team on hydraulic fracturing;
The identities and qualifications of the individual task team members;
Minutes of all task team meetings;
A copy of the most recent version of the task team’s report;
All research documents that relate to hydraulic fracturing and which have been, or may be, used by the task team.
“There are so many unanswered questions about this ‘mystery’ task team which has been conducting its affairs behind closed doors. It is time the Minister told us what is going on,” said Deal.
Meanwhile, in a radio debate on SAFM today (Monday), Shell’s Bonang Mohale stated that Shell was in constant contact with government and kept them informed. “Who is Shell speaking to? Who do others not have the same access,” asked Deal.
Under PAIA, the recipients of TKAG's requests have 30 days within which to respond
“US task team finds gas fracking poses serious risks” August 11, 2011
An American task team found that gas companies run the risk of causing serious environmental damage from hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). This was welcomed by the Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG).
The team was appointed by US Energy Secretary Steven Chu, and found that the increased use of fracking, which forces water and chemicals into rock, raised the potential for a “serious problem”. (See Bloomberg report, copied below email signature.)
TKAG chairman Jonathan Deal said it was significant to note the task team consisted of predominantly oil and gas industry executives – no community representatives were included – yet the team’s report was critical of its own industry and their own technology.
“Another point to keep in mind is the matter of safety and environmental performance. The US report said this must be enhanced by means of better regulations. We don’t have fracking-specific regulations in South Africa, a fact that has been confirmed by the very companies that are applying for shale gas exploration licenses in South Africa."
“How can we possibly approve fracking in South Africa when the US panel, which apparently includes a representative from Shell, is calling for improved regulation of the industry and warning of serious environmental risks. Even if we had fracking-specific laws, the next important question is whether or not we would have an appropriate degree of governmental oversight and adequate enforcement capabilities,” said Deal.
He said, “South Africa still had a long way to go in terms of a thorough investigation, before we can even consider licensing shale gas mining.”
“Lastly, it is also worth noting that this panel of experts was not convinced that fracking is safe” said Deal.
“Fracking task team is a sham, says lobby group” July 27, 2011
Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) has described the task team investigating fracking as “a sham”, after the Minister of Mineral Resources revealed in parliament yesterday that the departments of Water Affairs and Agriculture were not represented on the team.
And from her reply it is clear that the task team would not be interviewing farmers or businesses or tourism bodies in the Karoo, before making their decision.
The Minister was replying to a written question from Democratic Alliance MP Gareth Morgan. (The reply to question number 1409 is available on request.)
“The constitution of the team and the exclusive nature of its mandate renders any report from it worthless in the debate on fracking,” said Jonathan Deal, chairman of TKAG.
Deal said that TKAG was specifically concerned about the fact that the department of Mineral Resources awarded complete autonomy to the task team in terms of the date on which the moratorium will be lifted, as well as the terms upon which applications and proposed operations shall be assessed.
“The fact that the task team excludes every other ministry and role player in this country with the exception of Departments of Trade & Industry, Science & Technology and Minerals is for TKAG, a clear indicator of the decision that can be expected from the team – fracking will be given the green light,” he said.
TKAG added that even the working group established by the team comprises only representatives from the Petroleum Association of South Africa, the Council for Geosciences and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
“This is not the way a democratic government should be behaving”, said Deal. “One would expect the task team, which is dealing with such an important issue, to represent all interested parties.
"Fracking has damaged water supplies in a number of American States – and yet there is not a member of the Department of Water Affairs on the task team. Farmers’ land will be disturbed – yet there is no representative of any farmers. There are no environmental NGO’s.”
Deal pointed out that according to the Minister herself, the moratorium was imposed as there were "very serious environmental implications (and) then "we as a cabinet took the decision to put in place a moratorium until we got the answers to that."
"How can the Cabinet expect to find answers to their environmental concerns if the Department of the Environment and the Department of Water are not involved?
"Any answers that the Task Team puts forward will not be the product of taking Cabinet's primary concerns into account, and thus they will be worthless to Cabinet and the interested and affected parties (IAPs) who are relying on Cabinet to make an informed decision", said Deal.
"It was surely a material condition of Cabinet’s call for a moratorium, that the full implications of fracking must be researched - the Task Team will certainly have failed in that respect if they do not take in concerns about the environment and water.
"The manner in which the Task Team has seemingly exercised their powers is so unreasonable that no reasonable person in an administrative position would have conducted themselves in a similar fashion,” said Deal.
In her reply in Parliament, the Minister of Mineral Resources claimed that the public had already had their opportunity to comment on the applications of various companies who wish to mine shale gas, and that there would be no further opportunity for public involvement. No member of civil society will be involved in any way with the team.
"This is totally unacceptable," said Deal. "It is reasonable under the circumstances to be suspicious of bias."
According to Lewis Pugh, the internationally renowned cold water
swimmer, and a member of TKAG, no answers have been forthcoming to questions from the public for more than three months.
"Now we find out that all interested parties will not be consulted. Nor do we know the qualifications of the members of the team.
"In a democracy one would expect the process to be open and transparent. Nothing should be done behind closed doors.
"The fact that this has not occurred leads one to conclude that the decision to frack has been given the go-ahead – and this “Task Team” is simply rubber stamping the decision,” said Pugh.
According to Deal, “this parliamentary reply explains the Minister’s baffling behaviour since April, where she refused to communicate with TKAG and other stakeholders.
"The actions of her department effectively marginalized all of the interest groups and affected parties in South Africa. We’re appalled that key ministries such as Water and Environment, Tourism, Transport, Agriculture and others are excluded from the team.
“Any report from this team which may give the go ahead to fracking will expose the Minister of Mineral Resources to international ridicule and pave the way for a legal opposition from concerned South Africans,” said Deal.
“There's no future in fracking” July 19, 2011
Oil companies were today (Tuesday) asked to drop their plans to use hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) to extract shale gas from the Karoo and other areas in South Africa.
Speaking at the Shale Gas Conference in Johannesburg, chairman of Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) Jonathan Deal said there was not enough evidence at hand that the potential benefits of fracturing could outweigh the attached risks.
"At this juncture of our history, with climate warming on the increase and increased threats to water supplies it would make corporate and social sense to invest research and development funds in seeking renewable energy alternatives, rather than pursuing finite fossil fuels," said Deal.
Deal was attending the 2011 Africa Gas and LNG Summit at the Hyatt Hotel in Rosebank, Johannesburg.
“TKAG respects due process and the current Cabinet moratorium on fracking. But this should not prevent oil and gas companies, such as Royal Dutch Shell, from changing their minds about fracking,” said Deal.
Deal also said there was not enough transparency about the departmental task team appointed to investigate the merits of fracking. “In the interest of playing open cards, we call on Energy Minister Dipuo Peters to disband this group. Repeated calls on her for clarity about the task team, and its terms of reference, have fallen on deaf ears.”
Deal said that fracking technology needs a rigorous evaluation that takes into account a number of technical, environmental, social, cultural and economic considerations.
He said that if Shell and other oil and gas companies were granted licences to explore or to produce without a comprehensive cost versus benefit evaluation of fracking's affect, the Karoo could face a social and environmental disaster that would devastate the area and its people.
“TKAG gets the hip hop on fracking” July 18, 2011
A hip hop music video about the dangers of fracking in the Karoo, was today launched in Cape Town.
Treasure Karoo Action Group (TKAG) produced the animated video, along with the vocalist and writer Jitsvinger (a.k.a. Quintin Goliath) as part of their campaign to create awareness about why hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) should not be allowed in South Africa.
TKAG is opposed to the hasty introduction of this technology into South Africa, without due processes being followed and proper research being completed.
“Our drive against fracking has many elements – such as a legal challenge, a challenge to the regulating authority PASA, and community engagements. This music video will become part of our strategy, as we campaign against fracking in South Africa in general and the Karoo in particular,” said Jonathan Deal, chairman of TKAG.
The music video shows a male character walking across a vibrant Karoo landscape, which gradually changes into a barren landscape due to the effects of fracking activities. The Afrikaans lyrics explain the risks involved and supports the images on screen.
The images are accompanied by a hip hop music track, with vocals by Jitsvinger. The video can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlcNX0XxGhk. The lyrics are printed below, followed by an English translation. Screen grabs of the music video are available upon request, from email@example.com
“We hope this video will help us spread the message about the potential risks involved with the use of fracking. If fracking is allowed to be implemented without careful research and planning, it is the entire country that will be directly or indirectly affected.
“We are talking to the youth because they are the ones who will be most affected by the potential social, economic and ecological damage caused through this mining technique,” said Deal.
[ABOUT TKAG – Treasure the Karoo Action group has emerged as the co-ordinating body, representative of a broad range of stakeholders who are concerned with the plans of oil and gas companies to extract shale gas from the Karoo basin. Popular support can be followed and joined on Facebook and at www.treasurethekaroo.blogspot.com]
[ABOUT JITSVINGER - Jitsvinger (Quintin Goliath) is an Afrikaaps (Afrikaans with local Cape Town dialect) vernacular and Kyknet Fiestas award winning performer who combines poetry, self-composed music and theatre. He started his assent into the music arena in the mid-90s eventually releasing his self-written debut album Skeletsleutel in 2006. He is currently working on various theatre and music projects, and his follow-up album.]
HET JY GEHOOR VANNIE NUWE GEVAAR
WAT ELECTRIC VERSKAF SUPPLY MAAR VERNIETIG
SODRA DIT MET DIE WATER CONNECT BROE’?
OLIE COMPANIES PLOEG ‘n DISASTER
BEKEND AS “FRACKING”
‘n HYDRAULIC GEDRIL KRAAK ROTSE
4 KILOMETERS ONDERGROND
INNIE KAROO ISSIE NATUURLIKE GAS GROOT
SOWEL ASSIE SKELM MANIERE VANNIE VULTURES
MOEDERNATUUR HET BESKIKBAAR GESTEL
WAT BEDOEL IS VIR MENS EN DIE AARDE SAAM
HOE KAN JY SO IETS VOLMAAK CORRUPT VIR GELD?
FRACKING VAT DIE HELE PLAN TO HELL
DINK ‘n BIETJIE
KAMMA OM WERK TE VERSKAF
VAT DAAI FLOP TECHNIQUE, VERKAS
WAT VANNIE MENSE VANNIE LAND?
DIE HABITAT IS KLAAR INTACT
CHECK UIT DIE CULTURE
DIT MAAK DIE ECOSYSTEM TOXIC
MET SCAMS VAN JOBS GEE
HAIBO! FIGHT DIE SILENCE
HAIKHONA! VIR DAAI POISON
WAT VERSPREI WORD DEUR DIE KRANE, JOE!
ONS BETER YTSTIEK EN EN OPSKUD
VOOR’IE KINDERS BYRIE HUIS SIEK EN VROT SIT
VAN’IE BENZENE, FORMALDEHYDE EN DIESMEER
WEGGESTIEK INNIE WATER SUPPLY DEUR’IE POMPE
DOM IS DAAI METHOD WAT VI ONS GAAN TREF
‘n ALTERNATIVE IS WAT ONS MOET AAN WERK
ORGANIZE TIPS, MAXIMISE EN TRY DIT
VIR SURVIVAL, STIEKYT MET JOU RIGHT TO FIGHT
Have you heard of the new danger that supplies electricity but will destroy as soon as it connects with water, brother?
Oil companies plough a disaster known as fracking: hydraulic drilling fractures rocks 4 kilos underground
in the Karoo the natural gas is plentiful, along with the sly tricks of the vultures.
Mother nature provided what was intended for man and earth together. How can you corrupt something so pure for money?
Fracking takes this whole plan to hell
Think about it
Fracking! Apparently to create jobs
Hectic! Take that failed technique and hit the road
What about the people of our country?
The habitat is already intact, check out the culture
It makes the whole ecosystem toxic
Multi-millions profited with scams of job creation
Haibo! Fight the silence
Haikona for that poison that spreads through the taps
We better stand up and shake our heads before our children are sick at home from benzene, formaldehyde and more, hidden in the water supply by the pumps :
That method is stupid that's going to hit us. We must look for an alternative, organise tips, maximise and try that for survival, stand up and use you're right to fight!