Opponents of fracking want full disclosure

09 January 2012 - 10:02
By I-Net Bridge
An anti-fracking protester.
Image: SPENCER PLATT / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP An anti-fracking protester.

Treasure the Karoo Action Group will apply to the Pretoria High Court today for an order compelling Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu to reveal more about the team she set up last year to assess hydraulic fracturing ("fracking").

The group's chairman, Jonathan Deal, said on Friday that the group, which opposes plans by oil companies to search for shale gas in the ecologically sensitive Karoo, had applied for information in October but either the minister or the Department of Mineral Resources had missed all the deadlines for the release of the information.

"We expect a legal representative for the department to appear before the court [today] to ask for an extension, considering they have missed all the deadlines so far - or just ignored them," he said.

Deal said the group wanted to know:

  • Who was on Shabangu's team;
  • If it included oil company representatives;
  • What documents it was looking at;
  • What information it had gathered so far;
  • Whether it had visited fracking sites in other countries; and
  • What its terms of reference were.

Zingaphi Jakuja, a spokesman for the Department of Mineral Resources, said she was not aware of today's court application.

"As far as I am aware, our legal department has not informed us about it," she said.

Jakuja said the minister and the department had met the Treasure the Karoo Action Group to discuss all the listed issues. In her opinion, the court action was designed to embarrass Shabangu.

The formation of the department's team was announced in May, shortly after the moratorium on fracking in the Karoo was imposed. The moratorium was extended in August and is due to expire next month.

In reply to a parliamentary question by DA mineral resources spokesman Gareth Morgan, Shabangu said the names of team members could not be revealed because this might interfere with their mandate.

Morgan said keeping names and the terms of reference secret risked discrediting the process . - I-Net Bridge