Sen. Pavley welcomes anti-fracking advocate and Goldman Environmental Prize winner Jonathan Deal to California

May 06, 2013

SACRAMENTO– Jonathan Deal, a South African resident who led a campaign to protect sensitive wildlands from risky gas drilling, will be recognized on the Senate Floor today for his environmental advocacy. He is visiting the California State Capitol this week to tell his story and educate public officials.


Deal lives in the rural Karoo region, a semi-desert area that is home to a rich variety of plants and animals and a robust agricultural industry. In January of 2011, Deal learned that Royal Dutch Shell and other companies planned to extract natural gas using fracking, a controversial practice in which water, sand and chemicals are injected deep underground to crack shale rock and free up oil and gas.


Known technically as hydraulic fracturing, fracking has raised concerns internationally about threats to public health and safety, agriculture and the environment.


Without political training or experience, Deal organized a campaign to challenge the oil companies. Within a few months, the government enacted a moratorium on fracking. The moratorium was lifted in September 2012, but the government has commissioned new studies of the risks of fracking, and Deal continues to challenge the issuance of drilling permits in the Karoo.


"Jonathan Deal is living proof that an individual can stand up to powerful interests and have an impact on public policy," Sen. Fran Pavley said. "We welcome him to California, where he serves as an inspiration to all who believe that citizens should have a voice in a democracy."


Deal was recognized with a Goldman Environmental Prize this year for his efforts.


"The jury was really impressed that he was able to stand up against an international oil company and have the success that he has had so far," said Lorrae Rominger, director of the Goldman Environmental Prize. "If you look at it, fracking does pollute water and it does use water in areas where water is becoming scarce. Over the next 20 years, water is going to be a huge problem worldwide. It already is a problem but it is going to get bigger."


Below is a statement Jonathan Deal submitted Monday, May 6 to the Senate:


“I have traveled the U.S. for the past month from East to West and North to South to learn firsthand about shale gas and shale oil fracking through the eyes of Americans. These conversations have included politicians, scientists, legal professionals, industry consultants and the man in the street, both for and against.

The inescapable conclusion is that I can find no good reason to support this controversial technology and its reliance on an unsustainable resource which so patently suits the oil and gas industry.


The resource itself depletes rapidly, carries with it significant environmental risk, far-reaching secondary costs to your constituents, and locks economies into a further dependence on fossil fuels.


Finally, it firmly delays the emergence of the renewable technologies that we all know will someday have to deliver the world’s energy requirements.


My plea to you today, is to fully consider the net negative effect of embracing the model of the oil and gas industry - a model that will see the future prosperity of young Americans traded for short-term gains.


I thank you for the privilege of addressing your house and pray that the people of California will encourage and support you to choose sustainability over the false promise of a solution to the energy and jobs conundrum that faces governments the world over.”