One of the biggest unanswered questions in the SA fracking debate is the tens of millions of people around the world who don’t want it.
The SA government is as quiet as a mouse about this – but very bullish about court. Shame on you!
The Character of the Worldwide Anti-Fracking Movement
by Duane Nichols on August 27, 2013
Fracking Protest in England
The Worldwide Anti-Fracking Movement
Review by S. Tom Bond, Ph.D. Retired Chemistry Professor and Resident Farmer, Lewis County, WV. August 27, 2013
To the casual United States reader of newspapers and captives of the TV news, any complaints about shale drilling may appear local and peculiar. Anyone who digs deeper realizes this is not the case. It is a worldwide phenomenon, present anywhere shale drilling takes place. New Zealand, Germany, Ireland, the Karoo desert in South Africa (a most unlikely place for an industry that takes so much water), Romania, Poland, and others. Each reaction, and there is always a reaction to what happens, has a separate story. Each uses different methods, to protest the same, identical complaints, but there are two constants: non-violence and largely unpaid workers in the anti-fracking response.
While the industry pays $80,000 to $125,000 to what the Chinese call “perception management” employees, people in the opposition work for free, out of conviction. Yes, a few of the long established environmental groups support paid employees, but they have a variety of interests, not just opposition to shale drilling. The reason people work for free is that when they see the facts they are energized.
I saw a man I have known for years today, but hadn’t talked to for years. First he mentioned the expansion of the Industrial Park at Jane Lew, our home town. Had I seen it? Yes, I’d observed a stoned road to it, wide enough to lead to a major airport, off Berlin Road. He told me the price of the land, $1.5 million, paid to the not-affluent family that had mostly let the plateau grow up. As our conversation continued, I became aware that he understood the game very well. The short lifetime of the wells, the need for continuous drilling to maintain production of a field, and the fact Jane Lew’s industry would be a burned out hulk, like the rust belt after steel, in two or three decades. This from a man who observes, but doesn’t read much.
The character of the resistance varies by country. In Europe, more densely populated, and familiar with organized young people in droves going up against police charged with maintaining “order,” there are lots of big demonstrations. Demonstrations against Cuadrilla in the United Kingdom at Balcomb involve hundreds of well educated young people. The drilling site was surrounded with chain link fence, topped with razor wire, just like American jails that have a yard, but the protestors resolved to go over it. Here is a BBC video. Notice the attire of the police. Try this in the U. S. and you’ll get heavily armed police, perhaps a Swat Team. I went to an informational meeting in Normantown which was about as tame as a church business meeting and someone had sent two deputy sheriffs.
In Romania about the whole population was involved. They had parades with big brass bands. Protest is a way of life in Romania, and they did this one right, but did not shut Chevron out. Bulgarians with similar tactics were more successful.
Eastern European countries are very anxious to wean themselves away from Russia, which has abundant supplies and laughs at the U. S. shale effort. As usual, the Russians are more than a little heavy handed, demanding lots of money (relatively) and political concessions. Poland was quite receptive to shale drilling technology, with relatively minor and local protests. ExxonMobil, Talisman and Marathon drilled about 40 wells, but only four were fracked. You see figures like 20% to 50% nitrogen, so it was unfit for fuel. All three have pulled out.
Canada is much like the U. S., with perhaps an even more powerful energy sector. Provinces in the East, with dense populations, have very strong movements. Quebec has locked the practice out. In the West, Alberta is a mess, with both tar sands and fracking coal seams. Jessica Ernst, a high-profile, Alberta-based environmental consultant, has released a comprehensive summary of science, facts and documents relating to groundwater contamination from the controversial practice of natural gas hydraulic fracturing (fracking). It is part of a $33 M law suit. The culmination of ten years of research, the 93 page report “The Science is Deafening- Industry’s Gas Migration” is sure to cause a stir with the energy sector and its critics. Groundwater contamination has been a key concern everywhere, world wide.
The powerful oil and gas industry has governments in it’s hand. “We’re Being Watched“ is an article which tells how corporations and government classify the environmental movement as a danger similar to violent groups. Opposition to “Marcellus Shale Formation natural gas stakeholders” seems to be the problem with those expressing environmental concerns.
In spite of the loss of water and contamination of land, health problems, inconveniences, loss of property values, danger to workers and ugliness of the industry, there has been virtually no violence. Exceptions are some threats in England, and Romania and Wiebo’s War in Alberta and British Columbia. The later is worth a few hours of study for its curiousness alone. A blurb on the documentary movie of that name ends ” Their footage of confrontations with gas workers and police, and its stark contrast with media reports, raises a critical issue: when politicians and police become sock puppets for private interests, is vigilante action justified?”
When so much is taken from so many, a really high ethical stance is required for there to be no violence. For so many to work so hard on the basis of conviction without pay means something real is going on. And it involves a dispersed leadership in response to eyeball observations all over the world! Think about it!
22 August 2013
Shale gas exploration cannot go ahead, says Alliance
The Alliance against fracking in South Africa, AfriForum and Treasure the 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”
“Recent evidence from the United States of America indicated that fracking may contaminate drinking water. A study from Duke University analysed 141 drinking water samples across a gas-rich shale basin in north-eastern Pennsylvania.”
“They found that methane concentrations were 6 times higher, ethane concentrations were 23 times higher and propane was detected in 10 samples, all of them from homes within a kilometre of the drilling sites.”
Two previous studies by Duke scientists found direct evidence of methane contamination in water wells near shale-gas drilling sites in north-eastern Pennsylvania. “We do not want this to occur in South Africa, especially not in the sensitive Karoo. South Africa is an arid country and must be treated as such,” said Kleynhans
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.
To become a member of AfriForum and support this issue, SMS “Karoo” to 31336. 50c/SMS.
Head: Environmental Affairs
Cell: 082 829 9182
Treasure the Karoo Action Group
Cell: 076 838 5150
Head: Media Liaison
Cell: 072 332 9824
THE PRESS STATEMENT THAT STARTED IT ALL
Story ID 3740528
Government could authorise shale gas exploration before next year’s elections, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said on Thursday.
“We want to move before the end of this administration,” Davies said at a briefing on Thursday, following Cabinet’s fortnightly meeting.
“We need to advance the work on taking a decision on shale gas exploration.”
Davies said Cabinet believed shale gas could be a vital component in South Africa’s quest for energy security, but at this stage the potential extent of local reserves remained unknown.
“Mossgas has a resource of about one trillion cubic metres of gas. The gas fields of Mozambique which have just opened have about a hundred trillion cubic metres of gas, and the shale gas deposit — some of the estimates would suggest that it is multiples of the Mozambican,” he said.
“If this was the case, this could be a very, very significant game changer in terms of the energy situation in South Africa.”
Asked about the Karoo’s vociferous anti-fracking lobby, Davies replied that government would proceed with exploration in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.
“Of course we are not going to do this in any kind of irresponsible way,” he said.
“We obviously have to bear in mind all the environmental implications including, of course, the nature of the relationships with any company that gets any kind of permit — what is going to be the delivery in terms of any positive impact on the economy.”
Davies said the decision on fracking was part of a range of steps agreed by Cabinet to stimulate investment and job creation in the face of fears that a downturn in commodity prices would hamper economic growth.
An integral part of this was to improve the electricity demand and supply balance because it was “a constraint to growth that requires immediate attention”.
On Wednesday, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe told Parliament scientists had advised government that it should seriously consider allowing fracking for shale gas because it could change the course of the economy.