The article titled ‘Strong economic case for lifting shale exploration ban, economist argues’, published by Engineering News Online on March 2, refers. (See also page 8 of this edition.)
The Econometrix report (funded by Shell) is com- pletely out of touch with the reality on the ground in South Africa. Perhaps they are unaware of Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa’s recent warning that our water demand could outstrip available supply between 2025 and 2030. Experts warn that increasing demand for water will place severe strain on our country’s ability to supply this finite resource.
Fracking uses water to extinction. The vast quantity of water needed is permanently removed from the water cycle, and the wastewater generated is so toxic to all life that it has to be permanently contained. There is no technology to turn it back into usable water. South Africa can ill afford to squander its scarce resources in this way.
Gas companies do not have a safe way to dispose of fracking wastewater, and this has been the cause of more than 1 000 documented cases of contamination in the US. Municipal water plants are not equipped to deal with it. Vast volumes of frack flowback, combined with acid mine drainage and our already stressed wastewater plants, spell disaster for this country.
Fracking is not the only option we have to fuel growth and create jobs. The European Union recently issued a shale gas report that included a comparison with solar energy, using the same land area. The conclusion was that solar would provide more electricity than shale gas over the long term, because shale wells play out so quickly. Also, solar power stations do not contribute to air toxics or water con- tamination, do not remove water from the water cycle and can provide electricity into perpetuity with the simple replacement of equipment.
Our sewerage plants could also be converted to harvest biogas, thereby providing us with a truly renewable resource of methane (as opposed to unsustainable shale gas), while solving our wastewater crisis.
Instead of relying on US technology to extract buried reservoirs of fossil fuels, we should work on developing our own expertise in renewable energy and so create thousands of new jobs.
Climate Justice Campaign