Group says existing pipeline already connects Memphis and Byhalia


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Mid-South residents and activists continue to make their case against the pending Byhalia Oil Pipeline.

In a recent letter to elected officials, they demanded the permit allowing the pipeline be revoked. Additionally, they say elements of this process haven’t been fully disclosed.

It’s a very complicated process but in the letter, they say there’s already an oil pipeline running through the Mid-South. They want to know why this hasn’t been discussed and why a second pipeline is needed.

The letter was written by the Southern Environmental Law Center to David Salyers, who is the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. The letter maps out a smaller, older pipeline currently running through Collierville.

The group claims some details about this original pipeline weren’t fully evaluated during the application process.

“It’s not named, and they didn’t say they were using it. And they found problems with it,” Jim Kovarik, Executive Director Protect Our Aquifer, said.

The Collierville Pipeline already connects to the two pipelines that would be linked to the Byhalia Connection Pipeline, making a possible alternative.

“It would’ve been easier rather than trying to muscle people out of their properties in Boxtown and Westwood and southwest Memphis,” Kovarik said. “That to me was the path of least resistance. Use an existing pipeline.”

Activists are unsure what type of timetable to expect while waiting for a response to their letter, but they remain concerned about the way the proposed Byhalia Pipeline was approved, and its potential effects on drinking water across the Mid-South.

“That risk is considerable. And it falls mainly on the citizens of Memphis and Shelby County. And we don’t think that risk is worth it,” Kovarik said.

So this group of local activists also has an ordinance reading in city council Tuesday. If approved, it would create a board to help evaluate and regulate projects that could affect the environment.

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