Fracking the Karoo - The People Say No!, du Toit, Julienne , Fracking the Karoo - The People Say No!, (2011)


“Do you know what fracking the Karoo is like?” demanded Esme Senekal of Somerset East. The people from Royal Dutch Shell and their consultants didn’t reply, their faces impassive.

“It’s like you coming and drilling holes in our mother, and then leaving us to look after her and take her to hospital. Leave the Karoo alone!

“This is the last piece of holy nature in this country. No money is worth this. You can’t replace pristine nature with money.”

The surrounding sunburnt Karoo farmers, not a group usually given to high emotion, loudly applauded her.

The public meeting, organised by Shell’s consultants, Golder Associates (slogan: “Engineering Earth’s development, protecting Earth’s integrity”), was held at the Somerset East Town Hall, and started with a prayer to protect God’s creation, nature.

Most of the attendees bowing their heads were farmers who face the possibility of losing everything if, heaven forbid, shale gas is found under their farms – or for that matter, anywhere in the Karoo.

See: Aragom Eloff.  Ivo Vegter vs. the Fracking Fringe. 2011-04-18.

See: Donald Paul.  Drill Baby Drill. 2011-04-18.

See: Lewis Pugh. Frack Off, Shell!. 2011-04-05

See: Robert Brand. South Africa Endorses Plans For Karoo Gas-Drill Freeze, Ending Shell Hopes - Bloomberg. 2011-04-21.

Fracking Canada, Craig , Fracking Canada, (2011)


Ontario has a new blog:

Stop Fracking Ontario is a web project to inform and promote activism against fracking in Ontario, and in the surrounding region, and elsewhere.

This project is an all-volunteer non-partisan effort that is not tied to any one organization. We will need a broad coalition of citizens to apply ongoing pressure which could stop the fracking industry.

We also need to support a range of positive alternatives, so we can phase out natural gas.

See: Nelson, Joyce. “Ugly Reality of Fracking.” Greenmuze, April 19, 2011.

Frack off, Shell!, Pugh, Lewis , The Daily Maverick, (2011)


A moratorium on hydraulic fracturing has been under effect in South Africa since April, 2011.

On Friday 25 March, environmental activist Lewis Pugh delivered a passionate call to action at a public lecture in Cape Town. He implored South Africans to stand up for our rights – particularly the right to water, and the right to a healthy environment – and take on corporate bullies like Shell. If you care about the Karoo, if you care about our country, keep reading...

Ladies and gentlemen, that is what is at stake here today: our children's future. And that of our children's children.

There may be gas beneath our ground in the Karoo. But are we prepared to destroy our environment for five to ten years worth of fossil fuel and further damage our climate? Yes, people will be employed – but for a short while. And when the drilling is over, and Shell have packed their bags and disappeared, then what? Who will be there to clean up? And what jobs will our children be able to eke out?


Now Shell will tell you that their intentions are honourable. That fracking in the Karoo will not damage our environment. That they will not contaminate our precious water. That they will bring jobs to South Africa. That gas is clean and green. And that they will help secure our energy supplies. When I hear this, I have one burning question. Why should we trust them? Africa is to Shell what the Gulf of Mexico is to BP.

Shell, you have a shocking record here in Africa. Just look at your operations in Nigeria. You have spilt more than 9 million barrels of crude oil into the Niger Delta. That's twice the amount of oil that BP spilt into the Gulf of Mexico. You were found guilty of bribing Nigerian officials, and to make the case go away in America, you paid an admission of guilt fine of $48 million. And to top it all, you stand accused of being complicit in the execution of Nigeria's leading environmental campaigner, Ken Saro-Wira, and eight other activists. If you were innocent, why did you pay $15.5 million to the widows and children to settle the case out of court?

Shell, the path you want us to take us down is not sustainable. I have visited the Arctic for seven summers in a row. I have seen the tundra thawing. I have seen the retreating glaciers. I have seen the melting sea ice. And I have seen the impact of global warming from the Himalayas all the way down to the low-lying Maldive Islands. Wherever I go, I see it.

Now is the time for change. We cannot drill our way out of the energy crisis. The era of fossil fuels is over. We must invest in renewable energy. And we must not delay.

Shell, we look to the north of our continent and we see how people got tired of political tyranny. We have watched as despots, who have ruled ruthlessly year after year, have been toppled in a matter of weeks. We too are tired. Tired of corporate tyranny. Tired of your short-term, unsustainable practices. We watched as Dr Ian Player, a game ranger from Natal, and his friends, took on Rio Tinto (one of the biggest mining companies in the world) and won. And we watched as young activists from across Europe, brought you down to your knees, when you tried to dump an enormous oil rig into the North Sea.

Shell, we do not want our Karoo to become another Niger Delta. Do not underestimate us. Goliath can be brought down. We are proud of what we have achieved in this young democracy, and we are not about to let your company come in and destroy it.

So let this be a call to arms to everyone across South Africa, who is sitting in the shadow of Goliath: stand up and demand these fundamental human rights promised to you by our Constitution. Use your voices – tweet, blog, petition, rally the weight of your neighbours and of people in power. Let us speak out from every hilltop. Let us not go quietly into this bleak future.

Let me end off by saying this: you have lit a fire in our bellies, which no man or woman can extinguish. And if we need to, we will take this fight all the way from your petrol pumps to the very highest court in this land. We will take this fight from the farms and towns of the Karoo to the streets of London and Amsterdam. And we will take this fight to every one of your shareholders. And I have no doubt, that in the end, good will triumph over evil. DM

Lewis Pugh is a lawyer and environmental activist. He belongs to the Treasure the Karoo Action Group.

See: Aragom Eloff.  Ivo Vegter vs. the Fracking Fringe. 2011-04-18.

See: Julienned DuToit. Fracking the Karoo - The People Say No! 2011-01-31.

See: Robert Brand. South Africa Endorses Plans For Karoo Gas-Drill Freeze, Ending Shell Hopes - Bloomberg. 2011-04-21.

See: Donald Paul.  Drill Baby Drill. 2011-04-18.

Frack Check WV (West Virginia), Frack Check WV , Frack Check WV, (2011)

/frack_files/frackcheckwv.png was created as a platform for educating citizens about the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing and providing tools and guidance for effective citizen action and advocacy.

The editors of this site are volunteers with watershed and conservation groups in both West Virginia and neighboring states.

Excellent website has sections on Take Action, About, Friends, Impacts, Regulation, Your Report, Calendar, Cool Blogs and Links.

See: New WVU-Va Tech study links water quality and cancer deaths in West Virginia coalfields

See: West Virginia Surface Owners' Rights Organization (WVSORO)

See: West Virginia Blue: Dunkard Creek fish kill

See: The risks of oil and gas production acknowledged around the world

See: Fight Over Gas Wells in Chief Logan Heads to Supreme Court

See: WATER: Gas drilling in huge Appalachia reserve yields foul, briny byproduct - AP

See: Natural Gas Drilling Threatens Communities in Northeastern United States

See: Marsh Fork Elementary: Journey Up Coal River | A Community and Strip Mining

FracFocus Chemical Disclosure Registry, Groundwater Protection Council, and Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission , (2011)


This website is a joint project of the Ground Water Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.  It was launched on April 11, 2011 and only covers wells drilled starting in 2011.  It appears to be an attempt at Gas Industry "transparency" and has funding support from the U.S. Depatment of Energy (DOE).  It claims to disclose the chemical additives used in the hydraulic fracturing process on a well-by-well basis.


Of all the lobbyists bringing their issues to Capitol Hill, the Groundwater Protection Council is one of the smaller players.  I have to wonder, reading the rankings on Open Secrets, "Lobbying Spending Database: Environment, 2009", why this groundwater organization spends less on its annual lobbying than "Fur Wraps the Hill" or the "Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy"?  Groundwater is a hot button national issue, affecting both the urban and agricultural sectors.

The industry groups proudly stamping their logos on FracFocus need to come up with more cash or be outed as a do-nothing front organization advocating the corporate pillaging of our natural resources in the name of energy development.  They wave the Tenth Amendment around like the flag at Iwo Jima.

How do they demonstrate the committment to "protecting our nation's ground water"?  They conveniently share an address with the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC).  13308 N. MacArthur Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK.

IOGCC claims to have a noble mission but talk is cheap... They advocate less intervention by the Federal government on behalf of the shared resources in our environment.  Twenty thousand bucks?

Read between the lines!  Here is a letter written to Congress by the IOGCC calling for the Feds to keep their hands off! The $20,000 looks like a smokescreen to me. Pocket change...(Neil Zusman, 2011-05-24).


From their website:

On this site you can search for information about the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells. You will also find educational materials designed to help you put this information in perspective.

See: Chu Names Panel to Study Fracking.

My critique of the NYT Green report

Broder's piece goes on to offer a smokescreen of protest by the right, but according to Dusty Horwitt of the Environmental Working Group, “An industry insider like John Deutch is completely unacceptable to lead this panel...It looks as if the Obama Administration has already reached the conclusion that fracking is safe.”

Former Bush EPA Official Says Fracking Exemption Went Too Far, Lustgarten, Abrahm , ProPublica, (2011)


When Benjamin Grumbles was assistant administrator for water at the Environmental Protection Agency in the George W. Bush administration, he oversaw the release of a 2004 EPA report that determined that hydraulic fracturing was safe for drinking water. Then he watched as Congress used those findings to bolster the case for passing a law that prohibited the EPA from regulating fracking under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

In two interviews with ProPublica -- the first on June 29, 2009, soon after he left the EPA, and the second on March 5, 2011 -- Grumbles ponders the criticism leveled at the 2004 study and suggests that it's now time for Congress and the EPA to take another look at hydraulic fracturing. Our questions, and his answers, have been combined and edited for length to the version you see here.


Grumbles is currently on the board of the Clean Water America Alliance, a group focusing on water sustainability issues. He has also served as head of Arizona's Department of Environmental Quality.

FERC: For Citizens: Get Involved, U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission(FERC) , Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), (2011)


Get Involved

If you think you might be affected by a proposed natural gas or hydroelectric project regulated by the Commission, you have certain rights. These rights range from being able to look at project correspondence to becoming an intervener and being able to appeal any FERC decisions in federal court.

The Commission's Citizen's Guides are a good place to start.

Should I Get Involved?
Only you can ultimately answer this but we can help you think things through. Read More.
How to Get Involved
Take advantage of a suite of electronic services to easily get involved. Still prefer paper? That's fine too. Read more.
The Process
Natural gas and hydropower projects have distinct processes. This overview will help you to participate. Read More

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, is an independent agency that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil.

Contains sections on how to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, Enforcement, Legal Resources, Dispute Resoulution Service (DRS), etc.

FCPA Blog | UK Court Won't Block Telser Extradition, Cassin, Richard L. , The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FPCA) Blog, (2011)



The Continental Center and KBR Tower (foreground) in downtown Houston.
Photo by Blair McFarlain.


The London lawyer accused by American authorities of helping KBR and its partners bribe Nigerian officials lost his battle against extradition yesterday.

The British High Court affirmed a decision to send Jeffrey Tesler, 62, a U.K. citizen, to Houston to answer criminal charges in federal court. He faces up to 55 years in prison and forfeiture of more than $132 million.

Tesler was indicted in February 2009. He was charged with one count of conspiracy to violate and ten counts of violating the FCPA. The DOJ alleges he was part of a decade-long scheme to bribe Nigerian government officials in exchange for contracts worth $6 billion to build liquefied natural gas facilities on Bonny Island, Nigeria.

His co-defendant, Wojciech Chodan, KBR's former commercial vice president at a U.K. subsidiary, was extradited from Britain in December last year. He pleaded guilty in Houston federal court to conspiring to violate the FCPA.

Chodan's sentencing is scheduled for February 22, 2011. He faces up to five years in prison on the conspiracy charge. As part of his plea agreement, Chodan, 72, who's also a U.K. citizen, agreed to forfeit $726,885.

See: Barry Meier and Clifford Krauss. "Inquiry Puts Halliburton in a Familiar Hot Seat". NYT Business Day. October 28, 2010.

Last year, for example, Halliburton and KBR agreed to pay $579 million to settle charges brought by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with bribes that KBR had paid to top Nigerian officials over a decade. The companies still face criminal liability in Nigeria over the episode, which involved contracts to build a liquefied natural gas complex.

See: Snamprogetti, ENI In $365 Million Settlement

See: Fracking Resource Guide | Halliburton (updated)


Richard L. Cassin lived in the Middle East and Asia for 25 years. Before founding Cassin Law LLC, he was a senior partner in a major international law firm and managing partner of its Asia practice in Singapore, Hong Kong and Beijing.

He helps clients comply with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other U.S. laws, and regularly assists companies facing compliance issues.

Experts in Favor of Public Access, Learn-Andes, Jennifer , The Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre & Scranton PA, Wilkes-Barre, PA, (2011)



Terry Mutchler, executive director of the state’s Office of Open Records.


Jennifer Learn-Andes
Luzerne County Reporter

The public should have access to the inner workings of Luzerne County home rule subcommittees, say three experts on the state’s open meeting law.

Unwarranted closed-door meetings “fracture public trust,” said Terry Mutchler, executive director of the state’s Office of Open Records.

...“If they’ve opened the committee meetings to the public, it’s a natural follow that the subcommittee meetings be open as well,” Mutchler said, noting that her office has no legal jurisdiction over alleged violations of the Sunshine Act governing open meetings.

Melissa Melewsky, media law counsel with the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, said the Sunshine Act applies to committees of an agency that render advice, which would include the subcommittees.

“I think the language of the law is pretty clear. I think members of the public who are seeking public access are very legitimate in doing so. I think they have a strong argument,” she said.

See: Freedom of Information in the USA

EPA Research Highlights | Science Matters, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) , Science Matters, Volume 2, Issue Number 1, (2011)


GEMS: Great Environmental Moments in Science

Overhead shot of a highway system

Can Highways Contribute to Asthma?
EPA scientists and partners team up to examine the link between road-related air pollution and susceptibility to asthma.

Can Rain Barrels and Gardens Help Keep Sewage in the Sewers?
EPA researchers investigate how well rain barrels and rain gardens retain stormwater.

Rain barrel collecting water from a drainspout
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson

Environmental Justice: What’s Science Got to Do With It?
EPA researcher describes new research efforts to better understand the link between environmental health and justice.

Executive Message:

...As an agency, we are ready to face scientific challenges in 2011 that range from mountain top mining to hydraulic fracturing to endocrine disruption and more. But the reason it’s so important to invest in the kind of new thinking, methods, and approaches that Administrator Jackson has called for, is to ensure our ability to take on those challenges we can’t foresee. Innovative thinking and sustainable approaches will be out best tools to confront new environmental challenges as they arise.

Paul T. Anastas
Assistant Administrator
Office of Research and Development


EPA Hydraulic Fracturing Study Plan Review Panel, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) , EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB), (2011)



Hydraulic Fracturing Study Plan Review Panel

The Panel will review and provide independent expert advice on EPA’s draft Hydraulic Fracturing Study Plan that will investigate the potential public health and environmental protection research issues that may be associated with hydraulic fracturing.


It will be led by David A. Dzombak, professor of environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.

Legere, Laura. "Peer-review panel for EPA fracking study includes six Pa. scientists." The Scranton Times-Tribune. Jan. 18, 2011.

A panel of geologists, toxicologists, engineers and doctors that will peer-review a high-profile Environmental Protection Agency study of hydraulic fracturing will include six scientists from Pennsylvania, more than any other state.

The panel will review the techniques and analysis the EPA uses to draft a study of the potential environmental and health impacts of hydraulic fracturing - the process used in natural gas exploration of injecting a high-pressure mix of chemically treated water and sand underground to break apart a rock formation and release the gas.

...In a memo announcing the new panel, the EPA found "no conflicts of interest or appearances of a lack of impartiality for the members of this panel."

See: Natural Gas Drillers Protest Nomination of Fracking Critics for EPA Review Panel

See also: Hydraulic Fracturing Study Plan

Determination Memo:
Posted 01/13/2011
Determination Memo for this Activity. (1/27/2011, PDF, 11 pp., 44,581 bytes)


Dzombak, David A. Chair Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh PA
Alexeeff, George   California Environmental Protection Agency Oakland CA
Ballestero, Tom   University of New Hampshire Durham NH
Benjamin, Mark   University of Washington Seattle WA
Boufadel, Michel   Temple University Philadelphia PA
Boyer, Elizabeth   Pennsylvania State University University Park PA
Burnett, David   Texas A&M University College Station TX
Davis, Thomas L.   Colorado School of Mines Golden CO
Dunn-Norman, Shari   Missouri University of Science and Technology Rolla MO
Giesy, John P.   University of Saskatchewan Saskatoon Saskatchewan
Griffiths, Jeffrey   Tufts University Boston MA
Gschwend, Phillip   Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge MA
Harris, Cynthia M.   Florida A&M University Tallahassee FL
Kim, Nancy K.   Health Research, Inc. Troy NY
Lee, Cindy M.   Clemson University Anderson SC
Patten, Duncan   Montana State University Bozeman MT
Randtke, Stephen   University of Kansas Lawrence KS
Reible, Danny   University of Texas Austin TX
Schreppel, Connie   Mohawk Valley Water Authority Utica NY
Thyne, Geoffery   University of Wyoming Laramie WY
VanBriesen, Jeanne   Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh PA
Vidic, Radisav   University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh PA

Current Advisory Activities

EPA chief faces hostile House GOP, Bravender, Robin, and Goode Darren , Politico, (2011)



The showdown between House Republicans and the White House over climate change and environmental policies kicks off Wednesday with EPA chief Lisa Jackson as the star witness.

The Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on legislation floated last week by Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

Jackson last week blasted what she called “draconian measures” aimed at handcuffing her agency, and insisted that the White House would veto legislation to take away its regulatory authority.

“These efforts would halt EPA’s common-sense steps under the Clean Air Act to protect Americans from harmful air pollution that until now has not been regulated at all from any sources in this country,” she said.

According to the American Journalism Review, Politico is a Washington, D.C. based website and newspaper that focuses on Beltway political coverage, started by veteran Washington Post political reporters John Harris and Jim VandeHei started in January 2007.

See: Glenn Greenwald. May 30, 2008. "The right-wing Politico cesspool". Salon.

I once thought that Politico would be a pernicious new addition to our rotted media culture. Instead, it actually provides a valuable service by packing every destructive and corrupt journalistic attribute, in its most vivid form, into one single cesspool.

See: Republicans ask court to toss climate case

See: Smackdown: climate science vs. climate economics

See: EPA in the Crosshairs | Mixplex

See: Beware The Green Dragon! | Right Wing Watch

See: Energy & Commerce Committee Investigates Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing

See: Global Warming Experts

See: Climate Science Watch

Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), Environmental Integrity Project(EIP) , Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), (2011)


EIP combines research, reporting, and media outreach to spotlight illegal pollution, expose political intimidation of enforcement staff, and encourage federal and state agencies to take enforcement action to stop these practices.  EIP’s work has been cited in Congressional hearings and debates, in reports by the US General Accountability Office, and in frequent news articles. other organization is so sharply focused on the vigilant enforcement of environmental laws.


See: Watchdog: New York State Regulation of Natural Gas Wells Has Been "Woefully Insufficient for Decades."

See: Gasland - The Debate

Environment | Daily Yonder | Keep It Rural, Bishop, Bill, and Ardery Julie , Daily Yonder, (2011)


Lively and informative rural American blog based in Austin Texas. This section contains articles on the Environment.

The Daily Yonder's special reports also bring you overviews of the big issues now facing small communities -- health, employment, broadband access, education, and economic development.

The Daily Yonder brings issues and images of the rural U.S. to the fore. We welcome readers from all over to see what's working, failing or never been tried in small communities.

Dee Davis is president and founder of the Center for Rural Strategies, which publishes the Daily Yonder. He is the former executive producer of Appalshop Films/Headwaters Television. Read more about the staff here.

See: Abrahm Lustgarten. "Natural Gas's Climate Benefits Questioned." Daily Yonder. Jan. 25, 2011.

It was thought natural gas easily beat coal when it came to slowing climate change. The EPA finds that thinking needs a revision.

Economic Implications of Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Development: Potential Impacts on Tourism, Agriculture, and Housing, , Ithaca, New York | Cornell University's Community and Regional Development Institute (CaRDI), (2011)


Economic Implications of Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Development: Potential Impacts on Tourism, Agriculture, and Housing

A webinar hosted by Cornell University's Community and Regional Development Institute (CaRDI) on May 9, 2011 presented the work of a graduate student project in the Dept. of City and Regional Planning guided by Professor Susan Christopherson. Presenters: Vera Bartolome Diaz, Tom Knipe, Christopher Smith, Greg Waldman, Ethan Warsh, David West and Austin Zwick.  (PDF version of the Powerpoint).


See: Christopherson to study economic impact of gas drilling in Marcellus Shale

Photo by Neil Zusman

Christopherson states that after fracking, there is no other industry. That will be all there is economically for the next ten to twenty years. Forget about agriculture, tourism, wine, tourism, and anything else besides energy.  After a decade or two, or more, things might return to normal...

See: Catskill Citizens | More Damning Evidence About Fracking