Botswana comes clean on fracking licences after documentary
The government of Botswana has admitted to granting fracking licences in the southern African nation after a documentary exposed operations authorities had previously denied.
According to the film The High Cost of Cheap Gas, those activities are happening in environmentally sensitive areas, including the country's Kalahari National Park, home to one of the world’s largest elephant herds and a well-known tourist destination.
Global reaction to the news was immediate:
The documentary forced Botswana’s government last week to issue a press release addressing some of those concerns.
"No current operations have been given permission to conduct hydraulic fracking…. Permission has, however, been given in some instances in the past for the use of industrial explosives in sub-surface fracturing, which some may view as a type of 'fracking'", was the official answer.
Documentary maker, American journalist Jeffrey Barbee, has clarified his work is not anti-fracking. He said he just wanted Botswana’s people to have the opportunity to debate the issue with their leaders.
In an interview with The Citizen, Barbee said he was ‘blown away’ when he realized the people of Botswana didn’t seem to know anything about fracking, nor that it was already happening in their land.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technique that uses high-pressure water and chemicals to break underground rocks and release oil or gas. Opponents claim it generates air pollution and can contaminate water. Fracking enthusiasts, in turn, say it is safe practice that creates jobs, while addressing energy needs.
You can watch a preview of the documentary here:
Image by Jon Rawlinson