Former VP Al Gore joins Byhalia Pipeline protest in Memphis, calls it ‘environmental racism’

Updated: Mar. 14, 2021 at 9:36 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Sunday, former US Vice President, Nobel Peace Prize Winner and famous environmentalist Al Gore visited Memphis.

Gore spoke in opposition of the controversial Byhalia Pipeline that has drawn protests for several weeks.

Alonzo Weaver Park was packed with hundreds of people for the socially distanced protest opposing the Byhalia Connection Oil Pipeline.

A passionate crowd of several hundred people came to South Memphis Sunday to oppose the Byhalia Connection Oil Pipeline and hear from US Vice President Al Gore.

“This pipeline project is a reckless, racist, ripe off,” Gore said.

Gore said he agrees with the grassroots organization, Memphis Community Against the Pipeline that claims the proposed 49 mile pipeline between the Valero Memphis refinery and Marshall County, Mississippi gravely endangers the Memphis Aquafer.

Related: Memphis City Council postpones Petland, Byhalia Pipeline vote

“It is reckless to put that drinking water at risk. And the is risk is real,” he said.

“Our Memphis water is in jeopardy and we fight for that,” said Kizzy Jones, Co-Founder of Memphis Community Against the Pipeline.

Gore also believes this pipeline that would cut through a predominantly black neighborhood, is an example of environmental racism.

“When the pipeline representatives said this is the path of least resistance, that was a gaffe because he told the truth accidentally. Least resistance? I see a lot of resistance her today,” he said.

In response, Plains All American, the company proposing the pipeline released a statement claiming the pipeline route goes through mostly vacant property and would not endanger the Aquafer that they say is far below the underground pipeline.

“We will fight and we will continue to fight,” said Kizzy Jones.

Several speakers at the event Sunday are property owners being sued by Plains All American for the right to build the pipeline on land they own.

“They ain’t messing up the water they aint messing up the land, they ain’t messing up nothing! This land we fighting for has been in our land since 1937,” Marie Odom, landowner being sued by Plains All American told WMC.

Congressman Steve Cohen also spoke during the event.

Memphis City Councilman Dr. Jeff Warren and Edmund Ford Senior showed their support as well.

Memphis City Council has a proposed ordinance against the pipeline with its first reading this week.

And Shelby County Commissioners will make a key vote Wednesday on whether they will allow the sale of two parcels of land to Plains All American for the pipeline.

Gore told the crowd the best way to stop the pipeline is to pressure local politicians.

“Part of the message is: If you do what the pipeline companies want and not what we want, I guarantee you I’m going to fight with everything I have to make sure you are kicked out of office at the next election,” he stated.

Congressman Cohen said he has written to President Joe Biden for help and support in opposing the pipeline.

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