Broken Ground | Season 5 | Episode

Lesson 3: Dig In

All of Memphis drinks from a world-class underground source, known as the Memphis Sand Aquifer. The realization that the Byhalia Connection crude oil pipeline, planned for southwest Memphis, could endanger they city’s water draws new allies into the pipeline fight. Soon, environmentalists like Ward Archer and Sarah Houston of Protect Our Aquifer are organizing alongside MCAP co-founders Kathy Robinson, Kizzy Jones, and Justin J. Pearson. The fight, which started as a neighborhood struggle against environmental racism, becomes a city-wide crusade for clean water. As Kathy Robinson says, “If it affects one of us, it affects all of us.”

Episode Transcript

Broken Ground Season 5: Episode 3


July 28, 2022


Justin J. Pearson: We are at Alonzo Weaver park in Memphis. This is Southwest Memphis.

Host: This is Justin J. Pearson.

Justin J. Pearson: It is probably the most segregated part of the city and personally up the road here is where my great-great-grandmother lived and raised my Pawpaw and a big part of my family – Oh that’s good!

Pria Mahadevan: What is that?

Justin J. Pearson: That’s the marching band. Our band is amazing at the school. We’ll find a quieter place. But that’s Mitchell. That’s my school. Those are my people.



Host: This is Broken Ground, a podcast from the Southern Environmental Law Center. I’m Leanna First-Arai, your host. Here at Broken Ground, we dig up environmental stories in the South and introduce you to the people at the heart of them. People like Kathy Robinson, who felt her blood boil at home in Nashville when she learned about plans for the Byhalia Connection crude oil pipeline.

Kathy Robinson: I’m fired up. I see, you know, they want to take people’s land. They want to come in this community. And then they say, we were the path of least resistance, like we weren’t going to do anything.

Host: If you missed that episode, I hope you’ll go back and listen.


Larry: How you been?

Justin J. Pearson: Busy but good.

Host: Today we’re on the hunt for a quiet space to interview Justin J. Pearson, so we’ve come to Mitchell High School. This is the school where Kathy Robinson and Kizzy Jones played basketball together 25 years ago. And it’s where Justin graduated 16 years later.

Justin J. Pearson: Larry, it’s so good to see you.

Larry: It’s good to see you too, Justin!

Justin J. Pearson: I appreciate it.

Host: With the marching band practice about to kick back up in the parking lot, Justin leads us inside to find a quieter spot.


Justin J. Pearson: Okay… Hey, Ms Prior!

Ms. Prior: Hey! How you doing?

Host: He graduated in 2013, but watching him catch up with everyone on his way through the school, it seems like no one here has forgotten him, not even the school custodian, who’s eager to show him a video of her daughter’s graduation.

Justin J. Pearson: Yeahhhhh. Congratulations!

Custodian: Thank you, sir! I’m so proud of her I don’t know what to to do. Leon …

Host: Justin transferred to Mitchell as a sophomore when his family moved back to Memphis. They’d been living in Northern Virginia for a time, while his father pursued a degree. The difference between schools there and here was stark.

Justin J. Pearson: First few weeks at the school we didn’t have textbooks.

Host: And some classes didn’t have teachers.

Justin J. Pearson: I went before the school board demanding that we get textbooks and equitable access to resources just like other people.

Host: That advocacy worked. Within days, two trucks full of textbooks rolled into the Mitchell High parking lot.

Justin J. Pearson: We definitely got the textbooks. We got teachers. We got AP courses, because that was one of the things we started to advocate for. The school transformed in those three years.

Host: Obviously, Justin is no stranger to activism. So when he saw Kizzy’s Facebook post on the Mitchell High alumni page about a meeting to discuss a crude oil pipeline in the neighborhood, he wanted to know more.

Justin J. Pearson: And I went downstairs and I talked to my parents. And I said, “Have you heard about this pipeline that they’re trying to run through Boxtown and Westwood and Walker Homes?” And they were like, “Nope, don’t know anything.” I was like, “Okay, we need to be there Saturday, for sure.”

Host: He knew his parents would be interested because they’d both grown up in Westwood, a majority Black neighborhood east of Boxtown. They’d also started their family there – a family that would eventually grow to include FIVE sons. Justin’s the fourth.

Justin J. Pearson: Fourth! The best position. It’s called the Justinian position. I named it myself.

Host: Justin says the boys and their parents moved around a lot from one rental to another in Memphis. But one thing was very consistent for them: Sundays at their grandmothers’ homes in Westwood. He tells us a favorite memory.

Justin J. Pearson: Eight years old, we walk into my grandma Pearson’s house. She said, “Go look in the oven.” And so, I sprinted and I open the oven, and dressing is inside. And dressing is my favorite food in the history of the world. Still today like my heart is warm, remembering that. Because it was food time, it was family time. And then after we leave Grandma Pearson’s house, we go to Grandma Gwen house. (laughing) This is just – this is the routine, uh, way of things. It was good to have that consistency, right, despite a lot of other things.

Host: Justin says his family ultimately found stability in education. His mom earned her teaching degrees and his father earned his divinity degrees. Which means …

Justin J. Pearson: My dad is a preacher and my mom is a teacher.

Emily Richardson-Lorente: Did you ever want to follow in your father’s footsteps and become a preacher?

Justin J. Pearson: Nah, nah. I love preaching, actually. But being a pastor, it’s a different level of work. Um. And I don’t think that’s my calling. But I do love preaching.

Host: That was probably obvious to everybody at that October meeting where Justin first met Kizzy Jones and Kathy Robinson. The meeting where he delivered an impromptu speech that began this way:

Justin J. Pearson: The path of least resistance. That’s what they call Boxtown. That’s what they call Westwood. That’s what they’re calling Memphis: the path of least resistance …

Host: It was a memorable speech, but we wanted to know how he remembered that meeting.

Justin J. Pearson: Honestly, it was painful. Right? That folks could be pleading, saying like, don’t do this to our community, right? Don’t do this in our neighborhood. And then are told, um, no. We have more money. We got more resources. You’re going to lose. Your best position is to kneel and negotiate. But they don’t know South Memphis.

Host: One thing I haven’t mentioned – Justin was only here in Memphis because of the pandemic. He works full time at a Boston-based national workforce development nonprofit, but decided to weather the first few weeks of the pandemic at home with his parents. Then – as for so many of us – the weeks turned into months. Justin says coming back as an adult allowed him to see Southwest Memphis with new eyes.

Justin J. Pearson: There is a different life experience here than 10 miles from here east. The microcosm of the national inequality and injustice – it’s right here in this city.
Host: He means that literally. As we learned in episode one, life expectancy here in Southwest Memphis is a full decade lower than life expectancy in the wealthier, whiter parts of Memphis out east. And in neighborhoods like Westwood where Justin’s parents grew up, the risk of cancer is four times the national average.

Justin J. Pearson: You see these statistics and you turn them into people. I think about my grandmothers, both who died from cancer in their sixties. The uncle who just a few months ago passed away from cancer. And these things are not accidental, right? The choices about where we’re putting the plants, the choices about where these industrial zones exist. They called it the path of least resistance, which really was just an admittance to the history that they had looked up. Right? They looked up the areas that were redlined. Right? They looked up where were the lowest wealth people. They looked up where are the people that were politically deprived consistently and continuously. Look up where the industries exist. Right? And it tells you that story.

Host: Justin admits that he had no real interest in environmental issues before he came back home to Memphis. But learning about the pipeline plan and recognizing the environmental racism that made that plan possible? Well, that woke him up.

Justin J. Pearson: It was enough. It was enough to fight.

Host: So when Kathy and Kizzy approached him at the end of that October meeting, of course he agreed to join them. To help amplify the voices of the older folks who’d been fighting for nearly a year – like Samuel Hardaway and the Boxtown Neighborhood Association President Batsell Booker.

Justin J. Pearson: They were in the fight before we were. Batsell Booker said, “We held the companies off long enough for the cavalry to come.” Now, some of us came from Boston, some of us came from Nashville, uh, but the cavalry came.

Host: Kathy, Kizzy and Justin begin meeting regularly over Zoom with the older folks, some of whom gradually bowed out. Kathy Robinson says:

Kathy Robinson: I get it, like, hey, like you know, those kids are meeting too much, because we were meeting a lot. But then it always was us three – me, Kizzy and Justin.

Host: Together, they agree to form a group: Memphis Community Against the Pipeline, or MCAP.

Kathy Robinson: Okay, so what is the first thing we’re going to do?

Justin J. Pearson: So we had no sense of a timeline of like, can they start this tomorrow, or any of those things. You’re in the fight and you don’t know how long you have, right? We didn’t know anything about fighting pipelines!

Kizzy Jones: It was a cluster at first.

Host: That’s Kizzy Jones.

Kizzy Jones: I’m a talker. I wanted to get out there and go talk door to door. I know how it was when I was growing up. I hated watching news, so I knew everybody didn’t watch news. I knew we had to canvass.

Host: So they decide to go door to door in Boxtown and Westwood and West Junction, trying to get the word out to neighbors who may not have heard.

Kizzy Jones: This pipeline will literally go in people’s back yard. Do they really know?

Kathy Robinson: People were like, “Oh, hell no! And what I need to do?” I was like, ‘You need to call all these politicians and get them involved.” So that was like the thing.

Host: While they’re getting the word out, they’re also gathering as much information as possible. Anything that might help them stop this pipeline. Then Kizzy thinks …

Kizzy Jones: Hey! What about the guy who interviewed me at Fuller Park?

Host: Back at the October meeting in T.O. Fuller Park, Kizzy remembered that the whole time there’d been a guy off to the side, recording everything on his video camera. He even did a quick interview with Kizzy at the end.

Kizzy Jones: He has to know something. We, we, we was desperate.

Host: So they reach out to him.

Ward Archer: My name is Ward Archer.

Host: Turns out, Ward records a lot of events like this, in part because …

Ward Archer: People say the darnedest things, you know? (laughing)

Host: But Ward’s not a videographer. He owns a music recording studio in Midtown Memphis and is a former marketing bigwig. He’s never lived in southwest Memphis, hadn’t spent a lot of time there. But he was in T.O. Fuller that day intently recording the pipeline meeting because he’s the founder of a non-profit called “Protect Our Aquifer.”

Ward Archer: I’m supposed to be retired, but I have, uh, I guess the last three or four years I’ve spent the majority of my time on protecting the aquifer.

Host: Come to find out there’s a whole other layer to this environmental justice fight – one Kathy and Kizzy and Justin hadn’t yet considered – the precious clean water source lying deep below the pipeline’s path.

Kizzy Jones: We were solely, at the time, trying to figure out, how to stop this pipeline. We didn’t know that there was a diamond in the rough of this whole community and the diamond in the rough was the aquifer.


Host: Kizzy’s talking about the Memphis Sand Aquifer – a massive, ancient underground reserve that holds as much water as Lake Michigan. Memphis is actually the largest U.S. city to draw 100% of its drinking water from underground.

Ward Archer: I’m not going to say it’s the best water in the world, but I, I can’t think of anything better. It’s the perfect pH, it’s the perfect taste. It’s very clean. It’s just great.

Host: Ward remembers the day he first got really interested in the aquifer nearly 20 years ago. In his spare time, he was helping with efforts to clean up the Wolf River, which runs through Memphis and empties out into the Mississippi. Back then …

Ward Archer: It was still considered a real ugly, trashy, not safe thing.


Host: Stomping around the mucky shores one day near a place called Bakers’ Pond, where the Wolf River originates in northern Mississippi, Ward noticed sand.
Ward Archer: And my feet were like kind of sinking in, and I asked the guide, I said, “What is this sand?” And he goes, “Oh, that’s the Memphis Sand aquifer. This is where it comes to the surface. This, this is part of the recharge zone.”

Host: The recharge zone is where rain and surface water enter the aquifer to replenish it.

Ward Archer: And the more we talked, the more fascinated I got. And I always knew we got our water from the ground, but I never had comprehended that there was this ocean of water down there.

Host: Okay, technically it’s not an ocean, but it can be hard to describe. I’m embarrassed to admit that when I first moved to Memphis and heard about the aquifer, I thought it was something you could visit – like, I was ready to throw on my bathing suit and jump in. In reality, the vast majority of the aquifer is buried hundreds of feet underground. It’s completely unswimmable, and mostly invisible. Still, we wanted to get as close as we could to it.

Pria Mahadevan: Hey, how are you?

Host: So we met up with Sarah Houston, an expert in water resource management who’s now the executive director of Protect our Aquifer. She rode her bike to meet us for a driving tour.
Sarah Houston: I’m going to stash my bike somewhere. Just lock it up and y’all can drop me back off.

Pria Mahadevan: Okay, yeah, absolutely.

Host: Sarah is originally from Texas, but after pedaling 2-thousand miles winding her way along the Mississippi River from Minnesota to Louisiana, she chose Memphis as her adopted home.

Sarah Houston: It’s like the geology in Memphis, Tennessee, you would never expect how frickin’ interesting it is. I mean, it’s kind of flat here, you know, the water’s kind of muddy brown just from all the sediment in the area. You’re like, okay, no big deal. It’s like oh no, we’ve got one of the world’s largest, most amazing aquifers. And we’re on the banks of the Mississippi river, like the world’s fourth largest river, like, this is just so cool. (laughing)

Host: Being a self-proclaimed “water nerd,” when we asked her what Memphis water tastes like, she waxed poetic.

Sarah Houston: It tastes like nothing. (laughing) No, it’s very refreshing and crisp and it comes out of the ground naturally at about 55 degrees all year round. It doesn’t have really a metallic taste. This water is just so old, it’s pre-industry. There’s not really any chemicals or anything in there that you would have with something like surface water coming off of a river.

Host: Surface water actually makes up 75 percent of our country’s water supply. And since it’s subject to all kinds of pollution like runoff from farms and dog parks, and discharge from factories and power plants, it has to go through a long, complicated, filtration and purification process before we can gulp it down. But in Memphis, it’s a whole lot simpler.

Sarah Houston: Here, we are just 100 percent blessed with this deep, incredible aquifer that has multiple natural layers of filtration before it gets to our tap.

Host: So let’s dig into those layers for a minute. If you were to cut into the earth in Memphis like a birthday cake and pull out a giant slice, near the top of the slice, just under the first layer of dirt – the ‘frosting’ – you’d actually see a thin layer of water called the shallow aquifer.

Sarah Houston: We don’t use that water and it’s actually known to be polluted in quite a few areas just from our industrial activities here.
Host: But just under that shallow aquifer, there’s this thick, dense layer of clay.

Sarah Houston: And it acts as a protective barrier between our industrial pollution that’s leaked into the shallow aquifer and our Memphis Sand Aquifer.

Host: The massive Memphis Sand Aquifer lies below that protective clay layer. Over 800 feet thick below the city, it’s filled with ancient water creeping and seeping through clear, crystalline sand.

Sarah Houston: That’s what our water has been filtering through for 2000 years.

Host: It’s a totally natural, incredibly effective filtration system, all thanks to an ancient ocean that once covered the middle of the U.S., and then receded.


Host: And so, when the deep aquifer water is finally drawn up from underground, what little processing it needs happens in places like this.

Sarah Houston: So right now we are standing in front of the Mallory pumping station, which is one of the many aquifer distribution centers, um, in Shelby county.

Host: There’s an airy white building here behind a barbed wire fence. At first glance, it looks a bit like a modern library filled with bookshelves. But look again, and you can see water flowing where the books would be.

Sarah Houston: And so, this cascading sound you hear, this waterfall, that’s actually what’s called an aeration station. Since the water below us is so old, hasn’t seen the light of day in anywhere between a hundred, 2000 years. It’s, it’s very dense water. And so they send it through these cascades to add a little oxygen and also take out some of the iron content.

Host: This is one of 10 pumping and aeration stations operated by Memphis’ utility company, placed strategically around the city. Each one processes water drawn up by a cluster of wells scattered nearby. These areas are called “wellfields.” And they’re extra vulnerable to pollution. Not just because they’re full of holes drilled into the aquifer, but because of a process called “drawdown.”

Sarah Houston: And as you have well fields pumping and pumping water, they’re pulling it down way faster than a natural rate.

Host: And that can be a big problem because that protective clay layer isn’t perfect.

Sarah Houston: There’s places in that clay layer that have naturally occurring holes. And we call them breaches, we call them windows. But it just connects that shallow aquifer to the Memphis Sand aquifer. And so it creates this venue for pollution to come through.

Host: For a long time, people in charge of Memphis’ water management had no *idea* breaches existed. Even today, we don’t have a complete map of where all the breaches are. That’s a big reason why Ward Archer, founder of Protect Our Aquifer, was paying such close attention to the Byhalia Connection pipeline. He wondered …

Ward Archer: Where’s this thing going, you know?

Host: And specifically: how close will this high-pressure underground crude oil pipeline come to a vulnerable wellfield, or to a breach – or both? How likely is it that oil will end up in the aquifer?

Ward Archer (on video): So, what we’re trying to do is figure out exactly where the pipeline is going.

Host: Earlier in the year, Ward had attended some of those same meetings I went to – where Plains All American offered fruit platters and information on how safe their drilling process was. But Ward brought along a cameraman.

Ward Archer (on video): Could someone kind, kind of walk us through the map with the camera so we know where the pipeline’s going?

Host: In Ward’s video, you can see the 5 pipeline reps he’s addressing look at each other quizzically for a moment before one answers:

Pipeline Rep (on video): Sure. We can – we can do that.

Ward Archer (on video): What street is this? Can you tell?

Pipeline Rep (on video): Looks like that’s a rail line right there.

Host: Since the map was missing a lot of detail and made no reference at all to the aquifer system below, Ward says the walkthrough was pretty unhelpful. And then, At the next open house, the welcoming atmosphere had changed ever so slightly.

Ward Archer: They had a sign that said, “No cameras allowed.”

Host: But Ward was undeterred.

Ward Archer: I had my little GoPro camera, you know, and I go in.

Host: He hoped to capture more detailed pictures of the map to study later.

Ward Archer: I took pictures, you know high resolution shots of it, came home, and I have this bicycling mapping software. And I said, let me just try to figure out where this thing is going. And I drew it out as best I could.

Host: I just want to point out how absurd it is that Ward has to go through so much trouble to figure out the exact route of the pipeline. I mean, presumably the pipeline company KNOWS where it plans to put it, but they’re purposely not sharing the details. Anyway, Ward eventually turns to the mapping experts at the Southern Environmental Law Center. He’d worked closely with SELC back in 2017, after he learned that officials at the coal-fired power plant in Southwest Memphis were drilling wells into the aquifer dangerously close to (their) toxic coal ash ponds. Back then …

Amanda Garcia: He just started calling us.

Host: That’s attorney Amanda Garcia, director of SELC’s Nashville office.

Amanda Garcia: Ward is one of the most determined people I (laughing) have ever met. And also one of the most insightful people I have ever met.

Leanna First-Arai: Was it Ward that first informed you all of the proposed pipeline?

Amanda Garcia: Absolutely. Ward was concerned from day one.

Host: At the time, SELC wasn’t yet involved in the pipeline fight. Like any nonprofit, it has limited resources and needs to pick its battles. And it had just spent SIX YEARS successfully fighting off the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline through Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. Another protracted pipeline fight would be a huge commitment.

Ward Archer: They weren’t looking for a pipeline fight either. (laughing) It’s kinda funny cause I was, I was always sending Amanda stuff to, you know, just to keep you informed here.

Host: One of the things Ward sent to Amanda was the footage he recorded during that pipeline meeting where Justin, Kathy and Kizzy first met.

Kizzy Jones: We don’t want you to build here. We love our community. We love the history behind it.

Host: Honestly, Ward’s footage has been really helpful in producing this podcast. You’ll hear a lot of it here. But it was also helpful to Amanda in checking off one of her requirements for pursuing a legal case.

Amanda Garcia: Legal action is powerful and it’s an important part of a campaign, but legal action has to be rooted in actual harm. We have to have, you know, people who are deeply connected to the place that’s being affected.

Host: Ward’s video made it clear that those deep connections existed.

Vivian: You want to go through Boxtown. We already have enough hardship down here.

Justin J. Pearson: Come on!

Vivian: We don’t need anymore!

Justin J. Pearson: Come on!

Leanna First-Arai: What was the moment when, when y’all together were like, all right, we’re going to do this?

Amanda Garcia: I gave George the file, actually …

Host: George Nolan is a senior attorney in SELC’s Nashville office.

Amanda Garcia: … and said, “I really want to do something here, but I’m not sure what we can do.”

George Nolan: When I started looking into it and learning about it, I realized, gosh, this is just the most terrible idea imaginable.

Host: George knows enough about pipelines to have developed his own mantra about them:

George Nolan: There are two types of pipelines: pipelines that leak and pipelines that are going to leak. And so putting a high pressure crude oil pipeline across the top of this critical drinking water source, bad idea.

Host: Plus, there were some other red flags.

George Nolan: One thing we were worried about was the fact that these two companies …

Host: Meaning Valero and Plains All-American.

George Nolan: … they came together to form what’s called a limited liability company or an LLC.

Host: That’s the Byhalia Connection, LLC.

George Nolan: And it was really the LLC that was going to build the pipeline.

Host: This kind of corporate structure is *itself* a tactic that can be useful for companies looking to avoid consequences.

George Nolan: So we’re thinking, if it ruptures, who’s going to pay for the cleanup? What if this LLC doesn’t have any assets? What happens then? It was just a no-brainer terrible idea.

Host: And the idea seems even worse once the experts in SELC’s mapping department help Ward nail down the pipeline’s path. Because now they can see …
Ward Archer: It’s going right through Davis wellfield.

Host: That’s the wellfield that provides drinking water to Samuel Hardaway and other residents of Southwest Memphis. And even worse, there’s a KNOWN breach in this wellfield, a crack in the aquifer’s protective clay layer that could let surface pollution be pulled through.

Ward Archer: You can’t be serious. That’s what I thought. You cannot be serious. They can’t let a pipeline, a high pressure pipeline go straight through – it crisscrossed it, you know?

Host: Amanda was equally shocked.

Amanda Garcia: My reaction was, “This is crazy. (laughing) This is not safe. This is not a good idea.”

Host: Of course, the pipeline developers had been touting their safety measures, promising they would have 24/7 remote monitoring in place to ensure there’d be no issues. Saying things like this at community meetings:

Katie Martin: 99.99% of oil gets to where it needs to go without issue.

Host: But for an aquifer, even a small leak can spell catastrophe. Here’s Sarah Houston again.

Sarah Houston: One pound of crude oil can contaminate 25 million gallons of groundwater.

Host: Let that sink in. All it takes is a SINGLE pound of crude oil – one tenth of a gallon – to contaminate 25 MILLION gallons of aquifer water. And spills aren’t hypothetical. Plains and Valero have both had them. In fact, the same month pipeline spokesperson Deidre Malone said this to a local reporter …

Deidre Malone: We have the ability to actually stop that crude oil from flowing at the drop of a dime.

Host: … Valero was failing to detect a leak just across state lines in Mississippi, right where the Byhalia pipeline was supposed to end. 800 gallons spilled there. Of course, we only found out about that spill a year later when a local journalist found the incident in a government database and broke the story. Believe it or not, the agency that tracks pipeline spills has logged more than 4,000 of them since 2010. Want to guess what percent of those spills was discovered by leak detection systems? Go ahead, guess. SEVEN percent. SEVEN. Clearly, it’s not always obvious when a pipeline is leaking, especially when it’s buried underground, as the Byhalia pipeline would be.

Sarah Houston: You might have a slow leak that leaks for months or years that is not detected. Next thing you know, a million gallons have spilled and it’s been being pulled down underground this whole time.

Host: This possibility – that a stretch of pipeline buried in the far southwest corner of the city – could slowly and insidiously poison the area’s drinking water, expands this pipeline fight from a neighborhood struggle against environmental racism to a city-wide concern over clean water.

Justin J. Pearson: Our aquifer actually created a universal way for us to talk about the injustice.

Host: Justin J. Pearson again.

Justin J. Pearson: And what we did, quite intentionally, was to make it near impossible to separate what was happening in Westwood and Boxtown to lower wealth Black folk, and the water that we all share. It said, “y’all are all in this together.” And that message resonated.

Kathy Robinson: If it affects one of us, it affects all of us.

Host: As Kathy Robinson saw it …

Kathy Robinson: Boxtown was just the vessel where this pipeline was going to come through in Memphis, right? But it was gonna affect everybody.

Host: In the coming months, protecting the aquifer becomes a sort of short-hand way to sum up the pipeline fight. And it begins to draw in new voices. Kathy remembers being struck by an opinion piece she read in a local paper that spring. It was written by a group of Memphis brewery owners who feared the pipeline could jeopardize the aquifer water they use to brew their beer.

Kathy Robinson: And this is probably sad to say, but, um, just to kind of let you know, like, I guess how Black people feel sometimes – and this is the God’s honest truth – I was like, man, we got white business owners behind us? Oh, we finna’ win.


Host: In our next episode, Protect our Aquifer and SELC join forces with MCAP to fight the Byhalia Connection pipeline. And a young journalist comes to town, turning his full attention to the fight.

Carrington Tatum: To be able to stand up to injustice, to dismantle it, they have to know about it. And as a result, that information is power.

Kizzy Jones: He was the vital piece of getting it out, of holding people accountable as well.

Credits: Broken Ground is a podcast by the Southern Environmental Law Center, one of the nation’s most powerful defenders of the environment, rooted in the South. It’s produced by Emily Richardson-Lorente, Pria Mahadevan, Leanna First-Arai and Jennie Daley, with assistance from Eli Motycka and Ko Bragg. Our theme music is by Eric Knutson. Special thanks to Ward Archer, who provided archival audio for this episode. To learn more about SELC, MCAP or Protect Our Aquifer, head to Broken Ground Podcast dot org. And if you enjoyed this episode, we’d love it if you’d subscribe and write us a review on your favorite podcast app. Thanks for listening!