12 June 2017

South Africa: Panama Papers Help Journalists Expose Fracking and the High Cost of Cheap Gas


Journalists around the world successfully used massive data leaks from shadow company registries that hide illicit money to create new insights into how multinationals in Africa potentially defraud their own country's tax authorities and hide as much as $60-billion annually in hidden capital outflows. By JEFFREY BARBEE.

Since 2001 the area near where I was born in rural western Colorado became a locus for fracking companies. Drilling there boomed throughout the last decade, eventually going bust by 2015. Today there are 17,000 gas wells in Colorado's Garfield County on the banks of the Colorado River, many of them no longer producing anything. The land is basically barren, farms are up for sale and the river has detectable amounts of cancer causing chemicals in it, probably from fracking, according to National Geographic.

When gas companies started targeting southern Africa with tales of wealth and prosperity myself and legal researcher Mira Dutschke returned to Colorado to learn about what happens when gas development comes to an economically depressed area with low rainfall and marginal farming conditions.

The economic story of a gas boom and bust cycle is well documented by researchers like Grant Jacobsen from the Royal Economic society. In that paper...

South Africa

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