MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A reckless, racist rip off, were the strong words used by former Vice President Al Gore to describe the Byhalia Pipeline while in the Bluff City on Sunday.
A crowd of roughly 200 people rallied Sunday around one of the highest profile names to oppose the Byhalia Pipeline.
“This resistance ain’t nothing compared to what they’re going to see if they try to keep going with this,” Gore said.
Sunday afternoon, Gore blasted the proposed crude oil pipeline that would run from Memphis to Byhalia, Mississippi. Gore called attention to its placement which would be running through lower-income, majority Black neighborhoods in South Memphis,including Boxtown and Westwood and also would be over a major water aquifer.
Gore said the pipeline put profits ahead of the people.
“I really and truly believe this is a reckless, racist rip off. I really do,” Gore said.
About a dozen people spoke at the rally making their voice loud and clear, including some who talked about how this is impacting them personally.
“This hurt us,” Marie Odum, said. “Y’all, it really hurt us to have to go through this this day and time.”
Odum took the stage with her father Clyde Robinson. He says he refused an easement on his Boxtown property and is now being sued by the companies behind the pipeline.
“We still have a lot of people on our side,” Robinson said.
The rally is in advance of a Memphis City Council committee meeting this week where they will talk about requiring council approval for pipelines and other projects on city property.
Councilman Jeff Warren is pushing for it.
“I believe our ordinance may give us the ability to stop this pipeline from coming through and potentially damaging our aquifer,” Warren said.
Also this week, the county commission will also discuss whether to sell county land for the pipeline. Commissioners are already voicing how they’ll vote.
“I ask the politicians and other decision makers to do what is right, because you know is right,” an organizer said.
The Byhalia pipeline is a joint venture between Plains All American and Valero. They sent us the letter they sent to the community, stating in part they “chose a route across mostly vacant property to limit impacts,” and the pipeline is “3-4 feet below the surface, but safely away from the aquifer.”
They also say the project will create jobs, and construction and taxes will pump millions into the economy.
“I have a feeling here today that this is going to continue to build and the right decisions will be made,” Gore said.
U.S. Representative Steve Cohen was also at the rally on Sunday and said he’s asked the Biden administration to get the US Army Corps of Engineers to rescind the pipeline’s permit.
To watch the live stream of the event from earlier, click here.