Pipeline protestors make voices heard ahead of crucial city council vote

Updated: May. 1, 2021 at 9:20 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - This afternoon, dozens gathered at Alonzo Weaver Park to protest the Byhalia Pipeline.

The pipeline would stretch forty-nine miles through several Memphis neighborhoods and parts of North Mississippi, but those against the pipeline feel this is a fight they can win.

On Tuesday, Memphis City Council will vote on ordinance number 5782, which would make installing an oil pipeline in Memphis have to go through several steps before being approved.

“But the truth of the matter is these billion-dollar companies are going to keep coming. They’re going to keep coming. They’re going to keep doing whatever they can,” said Justin P. Pearson, Co-Founder of Memphis Community Against Pipelines.

That’s why Justin P. Pearson and his group Memphis Community Against Pipelines, or MCAP, as well as other anti-pipeline groups, aren’t waiting in silence for Tuesday’s city council meeting.

It’s loud voices that opposed the pipeline, and Pearson said it’s loud voices that will be heard outside the city council.

“Their leaders have begun to step up. City Council is going to pass this ordinance, and we’re going to put another barrier in the way of the pipeline,” said Jim Kovarik, Executive Director of Protect Our Aquifer.

“I think it is government doing its best work, when it listens to the yells, the screams, the cries, even, of its people and turns that into policy and action for the future,” said Pearson.

The ordinance would set up a review board that would require any company wanting to install a pipeline in the Memphis Sand Aquifer to have a plan that would adhere to certain guidelines, such as not harming the aquifer with hazardous materials, not directly or indirectly promoting environmental injustice, and not holding the city accountable if something were to go wrong.

Those are the big three, according to Pearson.

“Any company that can answer those three things will actually go past the review board, the review board’s test,” said Pearson.

Tomorrow, Pearson will be holding a Facebook live on MCAP’s Facebook page to go over Ordinance 5782 in anticipation for Tuesday’s city council vote.

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