Essay from a Fourth Grade Michigan Student: “The Pipelines Should Not Be Built”

Just as climate change is the overwhelming challenge of our future, so too are our children the hope and promise of our future.  After attending the Climate Reality Training last October, I showed my fourth grade students a slide show on climate change.  I told them that they were not powerless to make a difference so when we heard about the Rover Pipeline leaking, they wanted to do something.  I directed them to do some research and then write opinion papers to send to newspapers and decision makers.  Here is one of those papers written by one of my students.

–Michele Wilkins Bailey, Ann Arbor, MI


There is a big argument going on in Michigan. The Rover and Nexus Pipelines are natural gas pipelines that use natural gas from sources in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. It is still being debated whether they should continue to be built in Michigan, or stopped. My opinion is that the pipelines should NOT be built. The process used to harvest natural gas, fracking, uses priceless freshwater and contaminates groundwater with bad toxins, as well as hurting the wildlife. During fracking, companies do not need to show the chemicals they use, which is another big danger. The pipelines will increase pollution and climate change.

One reason the pipelines should not be built is that fresh water is being used and contaminated. During fracking, companies use about 70 gallons of water a minute to get natural gas (Slagter, Ann Arbor News, 10/13/17), infecting the water with toxins. Toxins and chemicals also can spill out into drinkable freshwater sources such as the Huron River, where many of us get our water from. The reason the Rover Pipeline was stopped is because it leaked into wetlands near Dexter, Michigan, potentially causing horrible diseases from the poisonous chemicals. Wildlife such as plants and animals in the areas where water is polluted may die. The pipelines are a threat to our water.

When companies frack for gas, it is not required that they show the chemicals they use. If people get sick from leaks, doctors may not know what patients are sick from, because they do not know what chemicals are causing the effects. Toxic and forbidden substances should not be used without our knowing. This is a big danger for the community. Different chemicals are used in different companies and released in different water sources. Some common substances have been found: Acids, proppants (they open cracks in stone), clay stabilizers (preventing clay and soil from blocking cracks), and many others are some examples.

Another reason the pipelines should be stopped is they will cause more pollution and climate change. Fracking puts dangerous chemicals into the water and natural gas puts carbon dioxide into the air. Installing the pipelines will require cutting down more trees, which will result in less intake of carbon dioxide, also increasing climate change. Renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and water power are much greener options and are never-ending, so they do the exact opposite of polluting.

The Rover Pipeline Safety Commitment is: “Safety is our main goal. We want to provide safe and reliable natural gas service to communities.” I do not think they would be doing this project if they were completely committed to safety. In just the past two years, twelve people have died and ten have been injured from exploding pipelines (“Green America Magazine”, 2017). Along with contaminated water and pollution, the outcome of this project is neither safe nor healthy.

By now, I’m sure you have come over to the green side. Obviously, everyone wants clean water, truthful information about their drinking water, and a non-polluted Earth. Now, it’s time to take action. Do your part. Put up posters. You can even do what I did-write an argument and send it to the authorities. The Rover and Nexus Pipelines must be stopped!

Clara Paulson
4th Grade Student
Ann Arbor, MI