MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Former Vice President Al Gore is slated to visit the Bluff City as part of an upcoming rally against the Byhalia Pipeline.
Memphis Community Against the Pipeline will hold another rally Sunday, March 14, at 3 p.m. at Mitchell High School.
At the last rally, many raised concerns about the pipeline’s placement in lower-income, majority-Black neighborhoods in South Memphis like Boxtown. It would also be over a major water aquifer that supplies drinking water to over a million people.
“They’re coming to our neighborhood, in covert operations, preying on the poor people, the disenfranchised people,” said Batsell Booker with the Boxton Neighborhood Association.
The pipeline would run from South Memphis through Desoto County, Mississippi, and into Marshall County.
Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris has already voiced his opposition to the pipeline. Activist Justin Pearson said at Sunday’s rally, members of the grassroots organization will continue to call on Memphis City Council members to pass an ordinance to protect the city’s groundwater supply.
Justin Pearson, one of the co-founders of the group Memphis Community Against the Pipeline, believes Gore’s voice will get them attention. Pearson says the pipeline will do nothing but hurt the South Memphis community, an area made up of mostly African Americans.
“We are one of the most significant environmental justice fights happening, period. And so it was really just amazing having Vice President Gore joining that fight in having people realize the power and the movement and the resilience of the people of Memphis is that we can win against this pipeline,” Pearson said.
Wednesday, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland weighed in, saying there are about seven permits those with the pipeline filed with the city. For now, they’ve been put on hold while the city does research.
Strickland says his team is checking with water quality experts at the University of Memphis and what legal authority local government has in the project overall.
“The concerns I think are real based on past history in the United States and even in the world,” Strickland said.
Last week Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris said he’s against the project. He’s looking for ways to work with the county commission and city council to prevent it’s construction.
We reached out to the consulting firm working with the pipeline and are waiting to hear back.