Community asking city council to pass ordinance that could block Byhalia Pipeline project

Memphis, Tenn. — The fight against the construction of the Byhalia Pipeline continues.

If cleared, the pipeline carrying crude oil would go through parts of Southwest Memphis and would be built on top of the Memphis Sand Aquifer, the city’s source of drinking water.

Dozens of community members and activist groups showed up to Alonzo Weaver Park on Sunday for a rally hoping to put a stop to it.

Community members are hoping the Memphis City Council will pass an ordinance which would give the city more power to stop construction.

”Environmental racism is much bigger than the Byhalia Pipeline that wants to cut through historically black communities in Southwest Memphis,” Justin Pearson, a member of the group Memphis Community Against the Pipeline said. ”The crude oil pipeline is putting and risking the most valuable natural resources in this area for their own profit.”

On July 6, Memphis City Council is set to vote on an ordinance which would create a review board to determine if projects similar to the pipeline are safe and environmentally just. It also would prevent oil pipelines from being built within 1,500 feet from parks, churches and schools.

”When these pass, we do expect the pipeline company to offer more resistance whether it be taking us to court or taking city council to court,” KeShaun Pearson, a member of the group Memphis Community Against the Pipeline said. “We do believe that will happen. So the fight is long-standing.”

In May, the pipeline company agreed to put a pause on the project.

Those against it like Pearson hope by standing up, they’ll permanently keep the oil out of their soil.”It’s people’s power,” he said. “People power is what empowers our entire movement, and entire organization.”

Memphis City Council was originally set to vote on that ordinance which would present a roadblock to the pipeline in May.The vote is now scheduled for July 6.

Plains America Pipeline did not respond to requests for a comment about the rally and the community’s request to block the pipeline project on Sunday.