Treasure the Karoo Action Group (TKAG) the environmental interest group that won a successful court application to get the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) to provide information about its fracking task team is concerned about both the scant information revealed to date and the issues raised in the DMR response. The Fracking task team is to report to Cabinet in March, but the info to date reveals:
– a task team struggling to get to work,
– a possible threat to South Africa’s bid to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA);
– Department of Water Affairs scientists concerns about the effect of fracking on water. “I would like to state this firmly. There are serious issues for the Department of Water Affairs as to hydrofracking in the Karoo environment – especially with reference to the New Water Act,” said the department’s representative on the team, Dr Eddie van Wyk,…’ (Source Fracking worries abound 2012-02-04 16:35 by Yolandi Groenewald of City Press)
– a task team heavily weighted with Petro SA members and chaired by PetroSA’s CEO Xiphu Mthozami (can this result in a genuinely neutral recommendation?). The task team’s working group consists of five members from PetroSA, a deputy director general from the department of minerals and energy that specialises in policy, a member each from the Council of Geoscience and Department of Energy, a member of the Department of Science and Technology, three members from water affairs and a deputy director general from environmental affairs.
The information released by the DMR does not provide information about its submission to Cabinet in March nor the task team’s work to date. Jonathan Deal of TKAG said they were conferring with their lawyers about another court application to get more information. Concerns are being expressed about both the make up of the team, the lack of representation from public interest groups and the rush to deal with the issue. ”The US has set aside at least four years for (similar) investigations,” Deal said.
In 2010 Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Falcon Oil & Gas Ltd, and Bundu Oil & Gas applied to the Department of Mineral Resources for fracking rights. Following from civil action to alert the authorities to concerns about Fracking Mining Minister Susan Shabangu instituted a moratorium in April 2011 against fracking and formed a task team to investigate. The task team is expected to submit their findings to Cabinet by March 2012 after which it will be releasing to the public. Will it be released for public comment or simply for info?