Alpena Peace Coalition, a group that holds in reverence all people and all creation, hopes to bring a greater understanding of the method of deep mining for natural gas known as fracking and how it potentially can harm the environment.
The peace coalition has planned a discussion called "Fracking What They Don't Want You to Know" this Sunday at 2 p.m. at Alpena County Library. Special guest speaker will be LuAnne Kozma of Charlevoix, co-founder and current campaign director for the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan. This committee formed in 2012 to ban fracking and frack wastes by ballot initiative.
In 2013, Kozma coordinated more than 600 volunteers who collected 70,000 signatures from Michigan voters for the initiative. The committee is spending this year in campaign fundraising mode and also raising awareness by giving talks and holding other related events.
Carol Skiba and Jim DesRocher of the peace coalition were instrumental in planning Sunday's event.
"I have been to a couple of other meetings on fracking," said DesRocher. "It seems you only get one side. I'm a big reader, and I've been up and down the Internet. It seems that what we've been told is not all there is."
Both DesRocher and Skiba have serious concerns over the environmental impact that could be experienced in the local area, particularly Thunder Bay River and Lake Huron, with fracking wells in Montmorency County.
"There is a deep water basin that feeds Lake Huron and the Thunder Bay River," Skiba said. "This method of mining goes deep down with chemicals that are toxic. Some will drip down and could potentially poison our water."
DesRocher said a number of wells have been sunk in Montmorency County where the water basin flows down the Thunder Bay River and into Lake Huron.
"That's my main concern," DesRocher said. "It could happen by way of an accident, and current regulations are that they don't have to report it until 30 days later."
He also said a number of European countries as well as counties and towns throughout the United States already have banned fracking.
"Now is the time to bring awareness to people," DesRocher said. "I'm all for burning natural gas, but how they get it out of the ground is the question."
"We need the gas, but we need to get it safely," agreed Skiba. She said planning an event focused on fracking fits in with the peace coalition's mission because a peacemaker is someone who cares for all people and who reverences all people, all creatures and all creation.
The program is open to the public and is intended as an informational meeting. The peace coalition has invited Mayor Matt Waligora and other local officials to attend.