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Thanks to John and Jodi for their respective comments. I have just been told by one of my friends in the anti-fracking lobby that it has produced a comprehensive report, written by specialist energy attorneys, on environmental issues around fracking.  The 104 page report is a public document but I am not sure if it has yet been posted on a website.  If anyone wants a copy they can email me and I will forward it to them  (humphriesrg@gmail.com).  

 

The best way to keep up to date with the opposition perspective mobilised by the Karoo Anti Hydraulic Fracturing Action Network is here: http://www.kahfan.blogspot.com/   

 

This is certainly going to be an interesting campaign to follow, pitting self- and under-resourced civil society against a multi-national.  Jodi is right to point to the influence of new arrivals but how long does it take before a new arrival is not a new arrival?      

  

 

This debate will run and run in South Africa and in the Karoo    

This is an insightful piece. In the extractive industries we often submerge the importance of interogating technology within the dominant discourses of revenue, accountablitity and ecology as an end in itself. We actually often forget that technology is the process through which the ecological impact of the extractive industries becomes an issue! Priming technology (alongside other important aspects) should give us a more multi-dimensional approach to engaging in the extractice sector debate!
As with all oil and gas projects, there is always, always the risk of environmental damage --- spills, leaks, explosions, etc.That said, much of that risk depends on the quality of work by the site's operator. The operators responsible for damage quite often have sloppy work practices and have cut corners. As someone familiar that part of Pennsylvania with the most uproar, I have been watching with great interest and I can honestly say much of the public noise is created by outsiders or new arrivals primarily concerned about the beauty of the area. Some have a personal dislike of extraction companies. And there are more than a few people who signed the company lease without doing their due diligence and have lived to regret it. Others who created their own leases required best-practices protections and have had much less risk.It is important to take all these things into consideration. There have been thousands of wells fracked for decades, often with little negative impact. Those experiences should be used as best practices. There are ways to minimize risk, the amount of water used, and impact on the land and people. How much danger is posed to Karoo will come down to the quality of the operator, the quality of the lease, oversight, and exceptional planning and consideration.