Victory for Southwest Memphis: Developers Announce Cancellation of Byhalia Pipeline
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In a surprise move, Plains All American Pipeline announced late today that the company was pulling the plug on the controversial Byhalia Pipeline, a proposed 49-mile pipeline that would have gone through southwest Memphis neighborhoods to transport crude oil for export.
Community groups Memphis Community Against the Pipeline (MCAP) and Protect Our Aquifer led the charge to rally intense community opposition against the pipeline, over concerns of threats to local drinking water and further health risks to the predominantly Black communities in southwest Memphis communities that have borne disproportionate environmental burdens due to polluting industries.
Southern Environmental Law Center, representing MCAP, Protect Our Aquifer, and the Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club, has fought state and federal permits for the project. Southern Environmental Law Center also represents MCAP in litigation challenging the pipeline company’s attempt to forcibly take Black landowners’ property through condemnation lawsuits.
“The cancellation of the Byhalia Pipeline is a victory for the people of Southwest Memphis, for the city’s drinking water, and perhaps most monumentally, it a triumph for environmental justice,” said SELC Tennessee Office Director Amanda Garcia. “We are so inspired by the people of Boxtown, Westwood, and White Chapel, and the work of our amazing partners MCAP and Protect Our Aquifer, for showing what is possible when a community stands together.”
In response to the pipeline opposition, the Memphis City Council and Shelby County Commission are considering legislation that would require local approval for the siting pipelines in areas that would threaten to exacerbate existing environmental injustice or harm the city’s drinking water source.
“We urge local officials to continue to listen to the concern of this community and to move ahead with passing these ordinances to protect Memphis from the next pipeline or polluting facility,” said Garcia. “Pulling the plug on the Byhalia Pipeline represents an incredible victory but this pipeline has also shown the city and this whole country how vulnerable Memphis’s drinking water is, and how much southwest Memphis has already endured in terms of environmental injustices.”
Read more about the Byhalia Pipeline and what was at stake for Memphis communities and drinking water.