Deal Awarded 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.

frackingEach 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.” Continue reading

Pro-fracking argument is all gas

By: Jeremy Westgarth-Taylor

In his address on fracking at the Press Club on May 23, Chris Nissen made some extraordinarily erroneous statements.

What's so pretty about this? Photo by World Resources Institute

Mr Nissen agreed that the ANC had a financial interest in Shell, but he sees nothing wrong with this. Thus the ANC are both the decision makers – as to whether the practice of fracking should go ahead – and part owners of the fracking company. This makes them both the player and referee.

He states that the groundwater in the Karoo is “useless”. He thereby, accepts that the groundwater will indeed be destroyed by fracking. Mr Nissen, the whole of the Karoo depends on groundwater for its survival. By polluting the aquifer, the Karoo as we know it today will be destroyed forever.

Is your memory so short that you forget that only last year Beaufort West was kept alive by some kind folk who donated and trucked water to the town when their dam completely dried up? The town thereafter survived on water supplied exclusively from boreholes.

If the ANC and Shell partnership goes ahead then municipalities will die too.

The surface water will be affected too. It will be polluted from the drilling tailings, fracking fluids and radioactive minerals left on the surface that will run off into rivers. Add to this the trillions of litres of sea water that Shell and others intend to truck into the Karoo, the first avenue is into rivers.

Addressing the topic of renewables, Mr Nissen spoke of the ugliness of wind turbines. He did not mention PV (photovoltaic) technology at all. Are drilling rigs, gas pipelines, pylons and coal power stations pretty? Why single out wind turbines? Continue reading

What are the merits of fracking?

By: Jeremy Westgarth-Taylor

Test results indicate that at least one common fracking chemical has contaminated drinking water in the town of Pavillion, Wyoming.

How strange it is that a department DEA (Department of Environmental Affairs) which ironically shares a ministerial portfolio with Water Affairs (DWEA) should suggest that fracking be given a chance and saying that there was “merit” in carrying out some hydraulic fracturing.  There were no merits in what was reported though the report did mention one demerit in what they had said viz – “the avoidance of the contamination of fresh water resources” in the Karoo.  So what in fact are the merits of fracking?  As there were no meritorious things mentioned we have a chance to look at some of the negative things.


  • Shell’s employees are on record as having said that they wish to burn the methane gas produced from fracking wells on their pad sites.  These pads will be on somebodies farmlands, and they plan to generate electricity from the burning of the gas thus sending millions of tons of carbon dioxide per annum into the air.  This will supplement the CO2 already generated in South Africa from the burning of coal.  The question should be asked why use fossil fuels to generate electricity? Have they not heard that economists agree that it is now less expensive to generate electricity with renewables such as from photo voltaic panels i.e. solar energy than by using fossil fuels.  Continue reading

There’s no future in fracking

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 20 July 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.

Millions of litres of water are needed for fracking - per drilling site.

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.

Issued by HWB Communications (Pty) Ltd on behalf of Treasure Karoo Action Group

Working frack site raises new concerns about natural gas extraction

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 15 June 2011

By: Sarah Wild – guest of Royal Dutch Shell in Wyoming

Having seen a natural gas extraction facility that works — and, despite its problems, Shell’s onshore natural gas development in Pinedale, Wyoming, works — it is not certain whether natural gas extraction will be the holy grail of energy and the employment cash cow that SA expects it to be.

Wyoming’s Pinedale anticline raises new concerns about natural gas extraction

The country has been divided since it became public that Shell and several other energy companies had fixed their gaze on the Karoo and the shale gas reserves far beneath its surface.

Some have argued that it will solve SA’s energy crisis, ensuring a fuel supply for about 200 years; help the country move away from its dependence on coal; and create “unprecedented” employment.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, SA has technically recoverable shale gas resources of 13,7-trillion cubic metres, which could allow it to be energy independent.

The 1,1-trillion cubic metres of natural gas from the Pinedale Anticline can supply 10-million homes with electricity for more than 30 years.

Others have said natural gas would simply reinforce SA’s dependence on fossil fuels and cause irreparable environmental damage to an area with world- renowned biodiversity.

The Pinedale facility debunks a number of the myths but raises new concerns about natural gas extraction, including the contentious technique of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”. Continue reading