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Teenager to lead state anti-fracking campaign

by: PHOTO COURTESY OF MEGAN LARKIN - Megan Larkin is circulating a petition against natural gas and oil fracking after winning a stipend from MoveOn.org to lead an Oregon campaign. Most of the 100 grassroots activists selected by MoveOn.org to lead Fracking Fighting initiatives across the nation are college-age or older.

Riverdale High School junior Megan Larkin is an exception, one of only two high-schoolers chosen.

The 16-year-old intends to spearhead an Oregon campaign against natural gas and oil fracking, rallying people to sign a petition she’ll submit to Oregon legislators. She hopes to hand a petition with 300 signatures to state policymakers, and then arrange a meeting with one of them.

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

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.

Environmentalists worry that blasting shale rock can trigger earthquakes, and the chemicals can leach into drinking water.

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

Oregon doesn’t have any active fracking wells, but the state does serve as a shipment point for oil derived from fracking in the North Dakota oil fields. Trains carrying the oil travel alongside the Columbia River in the Columbia River Gorge.

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

Her passion to battle fracking arose while attending the Conserve School from August to December 2012 with her twin brother, Brian Larkin, also a Riverdale High junior.

Conserve School is a Wisconsin-based environmental program that takes 100 students at a time from throughout the nation.

by: PHOTO COURTESY OF MEGAN LARKIN - Larkin savors a view of Mount Hood while hiking the Pacific Trest Trail. “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 — a junior in high school — can make a difference,” says Stefan Anderson, head of the school.

Megan Larkin also was involved in the Green Club at Riverdale.

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

Now she aims to make Riverdale 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 says.

Brian Larkin says his sister is excellent at managing her time to make room for activism, homework and cross country.

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

Their father, Tom Larkin, says that Megan, one of six siblings, 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 says. “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.