Megan Larkin collecting signatures for a petition to spur legislative action

Megan LarkinMost of the 100 grassroots activists leading Fracking Fighting initiatives throughout the nation are college-age or older — but two are high schoolers, and one of them is a local. officials chose Riverdale High School junior Megan Larkin to helm a campaign against natural gas and oil fracking, rallying people to sign a petition she’ll be submitting to Oregon legislators. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, combines horizontal drilling techniques and massive injections of sand and chemical-laced water to loosen shale and release oil and natural gas.

Larkin, 16, said blasting shale rock can trigger earthquakes, and the chemicals can leach into drinking water. Organizations such as the Seismological Society of America and the Green Schools Alliance support these assertions.

“Part of my campaign is increasing public awareness to teach people about what fracking is. ... It’s very dangerous to public safety and public health and the environment,” Larkin said.

Oregon does not have active fracking wells, but the state does ship fracking oil on the Columbia River that trains transport from North Dakota oil SUBMITTED PHOTO - Megan Larkin loves the outdoors, recently hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, enjoying the view of Mt. Hood.

Oregon LNG, an energy company, is seeking to create a liquid natural gas facility at the mouth of the Columbia River in Warrenton, and Larkin, of Portland, wants legislators to use their influence to stop the facility, which would involve fracking at other locations.

She plans to build a campaign team to help spread awareness about such fracking issues.

Larkin’s signature search kicked off Jan. 14 on Facebook, and she already had garnered 70 supporters. Her plan is to hand a petition with 300 signatures to policy makers, and she’s looking to arrange a meeting with one of them.

“It’s a really big goal,” Larkin said.

She said her passion to battle fracking arose while she attended the Conserve School from August to December 2012 with her twin brother, Brian Larkin, also a junior at Riverdale High.

Students must demonstrate an interest in conservation to gain acceptance into the Conserve School, a Wisconsin environmental semester school that takes 100 students at a time from throughout the nation, said Stefan Anderson, head of school. Megan Larkin was involved in the Green Club at SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Larkin family enjoys the great outdoors, and the five siblings pictured are, from left, Brian, Nolan, Emmeline (in the arms of her father, Tom), Suzanna and Megan.

“It’s great to see some of our alums, like Megan, who aren’t waiting for college but are already jumping in and trying to make a difference and showing that young adults — only a junior in high school — can make a difference,” Anderson said.

After Conserve School, she was one of 100 students accepted into Green Schools Alliance’s Student Climate and Conservation Congress. Megan Larkin then became a Green Schools Alliance intern.

Now, she aims to make Riverdale the first school in Oregon to become a member of the Green Schools Alliance, requiring a commitment to using less energy, among other measures.

“I’ve been trying to make my school greener, make my community greener,” she said.

Brian Larkin said his sister is excellent at managing her time to make room for activism, homework and sports — she’s involved in cross country.

“She gets down to business, and she’s very dedicated and focused,” he said. “She just motivates herself with a lot of determination. ... I just find it inspiring.”

Their father, Tom Larkin, said, in terms of age, the twins are numbers two and three of six children, and Megan Larkin has developed a self-sufficiency that comes with being a member of a big family. He’s really impressed with her initiative and hard work combating fracking.

“It’s not like her mother or I are helping her behind the scenes,” he said. “She’s doing it on her own. ... We’re extremely proud of her.”

Jillian Daley can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 503-636-1281, ext. 109. Follow her on Twitter, @jilliandaley.

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