Nashville Group Says Running the Byhalia Pipeline Through Memphis Violates Civil Rights Act


The Virginia-based Southern Environmental Law Center has filed a complaint with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) alleging that running the proposed Byhalia Pipeline through Memphis violates the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Byhalia, according to its website, is a crude oil pipeline that is supposed to run nearly 49 miles from Memphis to Marshall County, Mississippi. The pipeline, the website went on to say, will connect the Diamond Pipeline with the Capline Pipeline. The Diamond Pipeline provides the Valero Memphis Refinery with crude oil to produce gasoline and jet fuels. The Capline Pipeline, meanwhile, runs between Central Illinois and the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Staff for the Southern Environmental Law Center said in a press release Friday that they have submitted an administrative complaint to the EPA under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This, on behalf of a group they identified as Memphis Community Against Pollution.

The complaint alleges the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, or TDEC, violated Title VI by making a permit decision that disproportionately burdens black communities in southwest Memphis without a substantial justification for doing so. Specifically, the permit authorizes construction of a crude oil pipeline over the drinking water source and through black communities that already bear the health and financial burdens of an oil refinery, retired coal plant, active fracked gas plant, wastewater treatment plant, and many other industrial facilities,” according to the press release.

“The complaint further alleges that TDEC violates Title VI on a continuing and ongoing basis by adopting a policy that it cannot and will not consider the environmental justice impacts of its water quality permitting decisions, including whether those decisions disproportionately burden communities on the basis of race.”

Former Vice President Al Gore, speaking of the Byhalia Pipeline, said earlier this year that “building more fossil fuel pipelines is reckless and many proposed routes are racist.” Gore, however, did not explain how the proposed routes are racist.

The team promoting the Byhalia Pipeline, meanwhile, said on their website that safety matters most.

“We work to involve a wide variety of community leaders and experts in this project and its safety — from environmentalists and scientists to city and county officials. We meet or exceed local, regional and federal safety standards as we construct and operate our pipelines. We train employees and work with local emergency response crews, to react to potential incidents quickly and safely,” according to the Byhalia Pipeline website’s Frequently Asked Questions page.

“Before construction begins, the Byhalia Connection Pipeline team considers multiple factors, such as potential protected species, prominent environmental features like wetlands and waterways, as well as schools, recreational facilities and historic and cultural sites. We collaborate with engineers and environmental scientists, community leaders and regulators to weigh these different factors and select the best route before a single piece of pipe is placed in the ground.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]








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6 Thoughts to “Nashville Group Says Running the Byhalia Pipeline Through Memphis Violates Civil Rights Act”

  1. We won’t step foot in Memphis or drive through it if we have time!
    Went to one of the most “trendy” BBQ restaurants in the Memphis Hell, I had to getup 3times to run off People who were casing? our vehicle. Left early because of them year 2010.Only other place than Phoenix we have seen with Security constantly circling parking lots, like at Bass Pro.

  2. jamesb

    i live in the memphis area and so far we have not seen a gas shortage here. the valaro refinery in memphis is why. if i go to memphis i am constantly looking over my shoulder. it is not a pipeline i fear but the thugs on the streets.

  3. Cannoneer2

    TDEC now exists to do the bidding of businesswhiners.

  4. Kevin

    Hmmm, what’s up with this? The Memphis business community and the Memphis city leadership seem to be constantly clamoring for the State or Federal government to bring jobs to Memphis.

    This effort seems counterintuitive the normal story. Could it be that these “leaders” really don’t want jobs for Memphis and it’s predominate black citizens? Could it be that they really “like” keeping the citizens of Memphis down trodden?

    But I think that we’re seeing signs that the black folk are sick and tired of all of this Democrat party BS, trying to keep them down. That’s why they all started to come over to the Make America First movement. Because unlike Joe Bama, Donald Trump treated all of them as equals!

    1. Cannoneer2

      Trump pushed Keystone XL, which had the potential to do environmental damage that would have been orders of magnitude worse. All the while trampling the rights of Native Americans.

  5. rick

    The pipeline may be the cleanest thing you have running thru Memphis. A step up.