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The fight to end fracking

Once people know the truth, they are bound to step up and stop fracking.

At least that’s the hope of Pat Rathmann, a member of the Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition, which is making an effort to bring awareness to the practice.

Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, is a process used to extract natural gas and oil from rock that lies deep underground.

As part of the worldwide day against fracking Saturday, Rathmann was set up at the Moscow Farmers Market.

“Our goal is to give scientifically factual information,” she said.

Rathmann said the facts are that fracking is causing significant damage to ground and well water, and large corporations don’t have to divulge what they are doing.

According to one of Rathmann’s handouts, during the extraction process, water and chemicals are pumped into concrete lined, deep water wells at high pressures in attempt to release natural gases from the rocks.

“The big problem is the companies are not required to divulge the chemicals they use,” Rathmann said.

Corporations claim it is a privacy issue, she said, adding the companies say if the information was made public competitors could steal their techniques. However, this also means the public is unaware of what may be getting into the water surrounding their homes, she said.

Related: Company allowed to operate despite fracking ban

Rathmann said another issue with fracking is that the concrete used in most of the wells fails to hold with the high pressure levels being applied. When the well walls begin to crack, it allows chemicals to leak into the surrounding ground water, Rathmann said.

And that leaves the wells unusable, she said, adding the pollution can spread from the well and into other water sources, such as rivers and lakes.

Within 20 years, Rathmann said, a significant percentage of concrete wells are going to be leaking, releasing these chemicals into the ground.

She said another common misconception about fracking is the healthiness of natural gas, she said. The natural gases that major corporations claim to be so environmentally friendly are not quite as clean as advertised, she said.

Rathman said she hopes that by coming to the market to speak with people and promoting some of the coalition’s lectures and programming community members will be opened up to these problems.

Personally, Rathmann said her goal Saturday was to educate, gain signatures on a petition to end fracking and convince people to write to their representatives in Congress.

She hopes her efforts will eventually pay off with a ban on fracking.

With her booth located off to the side of Friendship Square, she said she wasn’t seeing much foot traffic, but as of 10 a.m. she’d already had a couple dozen people stop by.

“I haven’t had anyone say, ‘no, you’re crazy,’ yet,” she said.

 

Samantha Malott can be reached at (208) 883-4639, or by email to smalott@dnews.com.

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