The first salvos have been fired in what promises to be a war of attrition: Global business goals, energy demands, political maneuvering and government silence stacked against a remarkable coalition of ordinary people, businesspeople, farmers, community leaders and academics. The controversial issue of fracking was first brought to the public attention on Monday January 31st with an article in the Cape Times and other media relating to Mr. Johann Rupert and the Shell open house meeting in Graaff-Reinett.
In what can best be described as a knee-jerk reaction, one of the founders of TKAG started a group on the popular social networking site, Facebook, and called the group ‘Chase Shell Oil out of the Karoo’. In two and-a-half weeks the site has grown to more than 2500 members. It has been responsible for a deluge of data, anecdotal stories from people involved in the drilling and associated industry, offers of assistance and a source of some really good ideas.
Through the activity on the site, TKAG made contact with others who had specific skills and expertise in this arena and it quickly became apparent that:
This is going to be a long process.
An effective resistance will require organisation and co-ordination to marshal and effectively use resources.
Communication shall have to be measured, consistent and sensible.
Research must be ongoing – both of electronic media such as the web and of project plans by the oil and exploration companies.
No one ‘group’ acting in isolation can effectively combat the fracking plans of the oil companies.
We will need the support of, inter alia:
Academics – here and abroad
Big business - (media interest, and funding in the corporate arena)
Civic organisations – agricultural societies, ko-ops, chambers of commerce
Political and government decision-makers.
Environmentally minded groups (birders, hikers etc.)
Religious groupsPeople who earn a living in the Karoo
People who eat food from the Karoo
TKAG focus group comprises six people:
Derek Carstens - businessman
Prof. Doreen Atkinson - Director: Research Cluster on Sustainable Development, University of the Free State and Co-ordinator: Karoo Development Foundation
Derek Light (attorney)
Julienne du Toit (journalist)
Willem Avenant (landowner in Murraysburg and creator of a blog in resistance to fracking)
Jonathan Deal (Karoo author, landowner and entreprenuer).
The central and immediate task facing TKAG is to co-ordinate this diverse group of stakeholders into a credible, authoritative response to the threat of fracking. We have moved ahead with our strategy and by the time this document is read will be on record with two formal press releases – one launching TKAG and the second a direct set of questions to the CEO of PASA.