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Animation video by local artist gets attention of Justin Timberlake in fight against the Byhalia pipeline

Justin Timberlake urged his 60 million followers to sign a petition against the Byhalia Connection pipeline.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The fight to stop the controversial Byhalia pipeline that would go through Memphis into Mississippi is getting an elevated boost to stop it through an animation video and superstar Justin Timberlake.

On Earth Day, Justin Timberlake shared a series of posts against the proposed pipeline breaking his silence on the topic.

"It was really exciting to see that Justin Timberlake had shared. He’s a very prominent figure here in Memphis but also over the world and water is important to us all," Mikhaila Markham said.

Markham is a local artist behind the animation video shared by Timberlake to his 60 million followers.

"It’s been a really effective tool at amplifying this movement here in Memphis," she said.

The animation video is just under one minute long. During it Markham provides an overview of the proposed pipeline and why they don't support it saying it puts Memphis' water at risk of contamination and is an example of environmental racism considering it runs through predominately Black neighborhoods.

“This movement really affects all of us but it’s important to acknowledge that it disproportionally impacts Black people in Tennessee, she said "This is a mission that I think is really important.”

Markham originally shared it on Tik Tok before moving it to Instagram, catching the attention of Timberlake. She said it was meant to amplify the message of the Memphis Community Against the Pipeline.

"It's wonderful to see Justin Timberlake join in the movement and protect out drinking water," Justin Pearson, of MCAP, said. "You are a Memphian no matter where you live and you know how invaluable our water is. It was great to have his enforcement of the work happening here."

In Timberlake's post, he urged his followers to sign a petition against the pipeline and to write to local officials. Since then, thousands more of people have signed it and have reached out to MCAP on how they can help.

Credit: Instagram

"I was really hoping it would inspire people to take action," Markham said.

The Memphis City Council delayed a vote until May 4th to pass an ordinance against all pipelines being put in the city. If passed, it's likely to face a legal battle.

The Byhalia Pipeline says through its website the project is safe and would provide over 500 jobs and millions of dollars in local revenue.

A previous statement by the Byhalia Pipeline refutes claims that it puts the environment along the route at risk:

Our goal for this project is to safely and responsibly build and operate a pipeline that will be a long-term benefit to the community. We are pleased to have worked with landowners to secure agreements for nearly 95% of the route. It’s worth noting that 62 of the 67 of the parcels the project crosses in Shelby County are vacant – which was intentional– to have minimal impact to residents. The Byhalia Connection project secured the state and federal environmental permits required for the project following more than 10,000 hours of environmental field study and analysis. The health and safety of the communities where we operate remains our top priorities and we will continue to provide facts about the project in discussions with community members, business owners and local elected officials. 

Watch the full video here.

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