South Africa Swims Against the Global Tide, Puts 'Controlled' Fracking Back On the Agenda

analysis

The State has opened the hatch to pouring scarce water underground, despite the rest of the world working towards banning fracking, and despite South Africa being one of the driest countries on Earth.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

Swimming against a global tide to ban fracking outright, the government has published new proposals to safeguard South Africa's declining water resources through "controlled" fracking - while simultaneously leaving the door wide open for oil and gas corporations to blast vast quantities of water underground to extract fossil fuels.

The new plans by Water Affairs Minister Lindiwe Sisulu propose a 5km buffer zone to separate fracking operations from strategic water resources, wells and dams, along with a ban on certain toxic fracking fluids.

Fracking - or hydraulic fracturing - is a water-intensive technology pioneered in the United States and Canada to get access to declining reserves of fossil fuels by injecting a high-pressure cocktail of water, sand and chemicals deep underground to smash apart underground rock formations, raising major concerns about the pollution of surface and underground water supplies - and increasing the likelihood of earthquakes.

The new water-use measures, published by Sisulu's department for public comment in...

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