The moratorium on shale gas exploration/fracking in the semi-arid, culturally rich and sensitve biodiversity hotspot, the Karoo region, has been lifted by the South African government, exposing communities to disruption, contaminated groundwater, air pollution and health effects. This is considered a rushed and ill-informed decision by the government, caving in under pressure from the oil and gas industry. At least 49 Karoo towns rely solely on groundwater for all their water needs. South Africa is said to encounter severe water shortages under current conditions by 2025. We call for a moratorium to be placed on shale gas exploration in South Africa to allow for more time for thorough research regarding both the potential costs, negative effects and potential benefits of shale gas extraction in South Africa (while also regarding the unique geological, environmental, developmental, socio-economic realities in the country and in the Karoo), weighed against other energy alternatives (such as renewable energy projects in the Karoo region). We would like to also call on the government to conduct a strategic environmental assessment and a health impact assessment as part of the investigation into shale gas. We urge the government to make an informed decision, instead of a rushed one. If shale gas fracking is allowed in South Africa, it would be by deliberate choice, not by accident. We need to decide whether we would be able to live with the consequences of our decisions.
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