Here is the response of TKAG to the latest article of ‘cautiously’ pro-fracking journalist, Ivo Vegter. His article may be read here:
The recent announcement by the South African government that it intends to licence, ‘push ahead with’, ‘force-through’ shale gas mining in South Africa, is a double-edged sword for Mr. Vegter and his supporters. On the one hand, it delivers the victory for which they have so ardently campaigned – drill baby drill. On the other, Mr. Vegter’s job is done – he will have to find something else to write about. TKAG’s work is just starting.
Were I one of Mr. Vegter’s supporters (and by the way – wouldn’t a public list of pro-frackers and greenies be useful at some future point in SA) or indeed Mr. Vegter himself, I just may, in private moments and away from the euphoria of the ‘hip-hip-hurrah’s’ be a tad concerned that one or two of the ‘small and easily manageable issues’ prophesied by the ridiculed greenies may come to pass.
Mr. Vegter’s article re-visits many of the traditional debate points around shale gas mining. I do not intend to respond to these. My silence will not constitute agreement with those statements. I do intend to address some inaccuracies in connection with TKAG – for the record. No apology or retraction is expected or required.
1. The proposition on which the recent debate in Grahamstown revolved referred to the holistic environment. Perhaps to clarify and qualify that this was a debate in South Africa, about South African conditions I should have said ‘in South Africa‘. Prof Keeton and Mr. Vegter assumed that the debate was about shale gas mining in America where, according to them, the efficacy of the process has been proven. Although I disagree, I have said that I wouldn’t be debating those issues in this response. In my view, the holistic environment in South Africa would include: the laws (and the lack of laws), the ANC/Shell connection, the potential for disruption of sustainable activities like agriculture and tourism and the lack of an open study related thereto, the potential for water pollution and the failure of the applicants to play open cards about sourcing and disposing of water, the dismally inadequate environmental management plans of the applicants, the documented divisions in scientific opinion on the process of shale gas mining, the documented inability of the Department of Minerals to control other mining operations in South Africa, the lack of structured input from other government departments such as health, transport, agriculture, and rural development; and so on. That is a selection of the issues that should be weighed up in South Africa when considering the efficacy of shale gas mining.
2. The video montage to which Mr. Vegter refers was produced by Michael Raimondo of Green Renaissance without reference to TKAG. This is not the first time, by a long shot that Mr. Vegter has made incorrect statements about me and TKAG, but I do not intend to revisit those here.
3. Jeremy Westgarth-Taylor is not a committee member of TKAG and TKAG has no input into the website of his company.
4. Mr. Vegter’s assertions of ‘flat-out lies’ and unproven claims appear to refer to the video which he has mistakenly ascribed to TKAG. We reject those assertions within that context.
5. Mr. Vegter’s predictions and assumptions of how the legal battle may turn out, and what TKAG is trying to do are noted.
In keeping with past ripostes on this column, I expect that Mr. Vegter’s supporters will quickly rally with the traditional cries of ad hominem, and playing balls, not men. It is disappointing that while Ivo is applauded for sarcasm and personal attacks, his opponents are vilified should they venture even slightly in that direction.
Although it may transpire to be one of Mr. Vegter’s last articles on fracking – and could even signal the end of his ‘cautiously’ pro-fracking career, (now that his job is done), I have at least learned a new phrase ‘agit-prop’.
Speaking of ‘balls’, it appears that the ball is in the government’s court. Perhaps Mr. Vegter could be usefully employed crafting pro-fracking rhetoric for the ANC and Shell.