The company planning to build the Byhalia Connection pipeline on Friday announced that it is abandoning the project, bringing a sudden end to one of the biggest environmental controversies in recent Memphis history.
The project, which would have put a crude oil pipeline through mostly Black South Memphis neighborhoods, sparked a complex legal and public relations battle that was fought in multiple venues, from the Memphis City Council to the court of national public opinion.
Local opponents and celebrities such as Al Gore, Danny Glover and Jane Fonda voiced opposition — the former vice president visited Memphis and called the project “a reckless, racist rip-off.”
Opponents also raised concerns about oil spills and threats to the area’s drinking water, which is drawn from wells deep underground from the Memphis Sand aquifer.
The companies Plains All American Pipeline and Valero Energy Corp. had formed a joint venture, Byhalia Connection LLC, to build the pipeline.
The pipeline was to have started at the Valero refinery in South Memphis on West Mallory Avenue, traveled south across the Mississippi state line, and swung to the east before terminating in Marshall County, Mississippi.
It was to connect two existing crude oil pipelines.
[Daniel Connolly, Lucas Finton and Micaela Watts]