Saturday, April 16, 2011

Fracking frightening

Is this how the Karoo will end up looking? A photograph of fracking in Jonah, Wyoming, USA.

In my previous post I ran a Shell advert that I had doctored, which showed what their "commitments" to the Karoo would lead to should fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, be allowed to go ahead in this pristine South African heartland.

Little did I know just how accurate that drawing was. The picture above is being circulated in cyberspace in response to the outcry over Shell's proposals. It led me to dig a little deeper. I discovered the picture is from a website called Damascus Citizens - will take you to the pictures of fracking.

My doctored version of part of the Shell ad which appeared recently in South African newspapers.

Fracking at Dish, Texas.

Fracking at Eunice, New Mexico.

As I said in the heading, fracking frightening.

I found this map of the United States on another website, TheZoo - - which shows how vast an area of the US has been colonised by this heinous operation in recent years, as the country looks for alternative energy sources. The website draws attention to a recent documentary, Gasland, which showed on US television. It quotes an NPR (National Public Radio) interview by Ira Flatlow with the documentary-maker, Josh Fox:


FLATOW: And the chemical they inject underground, the formula for that is secret…

Mr. FOX: Yeah, highly proprietary. Well, not everything is secret. Their – the fracking fluid is something – there are many different chemicals in the process that they use over time. At first, they thicken the fluid with gelants and then they turn it around and turn it into a liquid. And it’s very, very – there’s no friction at all. So they’re injecting all these different chemicals down on the wellbore – about 596 that we know about – a lot of which are proprietary. We don’t know the chemical compositions.

The industry is not releasing what those chemical compositions are. They’re saying it’s like the special formula for Coca-Cola. But this is, you know, being injected underground and left there by the millions of gallons. And we know that most of the stuff is toxic: carcinogens, neurotoxins, other – endocrine disruptors, things that are – can – that can really be very harmful in small, small quantities.

FLATOW: The FRAC Act, which is lying in committee in Congress, would force them to release all the information about what’s actually in that…

Mr. FOX: Yeah. It would force the disclosure of the chemicals and reregulate the industry under the Safe Drinking Water Act. They were exempted from Safe Drinking Water Act in 2005 by the 2005 energy bill which was a baby of Dick Cheney and their energy taskforce. And, you know, in fact, hydraulic fracturing is exempted from most of our most basic environmental laws…

FLATOW: It shows it right there in the legislature?

Mr. FOX: In the 2005 energy bills, it says right there. Yes. This is the Halliburton loophole. It is the exemption for hydraulic fracturing to the Safe Drinking Water Act. But they’re also exempt from the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, which controls storm water runoff and the Superfund Act. So they don’t have – they’re not liable to clean up their mess. And also, the Community Right to Know Provisions. I mean, the list goes on and on.


The site also includes an interview on YouTube with Fox, which makes for equalling frightening viewing.

The big question is: why is the South African government agreeing to this? Like its plans for a massive oil refinery (using third-grade oil) at Coega near Port Elizabeth, it looks like they are intent on foisting the dirtiest fossil-fuel disasters on us at a time when we are crying out for clean alternatives like solar, wind, wave and tidal energy.

As I said in my previous post, will this become our Frackgate, with all the attendant backhanders and bribes?

This was originally just a blog where I mainly posted my drawings, but sometimes the activist in me is forced to emerge.

Just peruse some of my earlier drawings of the Karoo and think about what this will mean to that lovely part of our beloved country.