Breaking News
More () »

Mississippi landowners hope Byhalia pipeline can be stopped. Aquifer or potential leaks at center of concerns

Landowners say Mississippi law needs to be changed to protect environment.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The battle over the Byhalia Pipeline continues to pick up steam.

The nearly 50-mile-long crude oil pipeline would run from the Valero plant in downtown Memphis, thru predominately black neighborhoods in South Memphis, and into Mississippi. 

While opponents against the pipeline in Memphis have been very vocal, Mississippi landowners are also outraged, but we're told many are afraid to speak out.

 If built, the majority of the Byhalia pipeline would run thru Mississippi. 

"I told them no we are not signing anything we are against the pipeline,  said Chris Pilcher, Olive Branch resident.

Chris Pilcher says the proposed Byhalia connector would cross his driveway however he and neighbors refused to grant Byhalia Pipeline LLC access.

"They took us to court and multiple other people in our neighborhood that wouldn't sign," said Pilcher.

In Tennessee, the pipeline would go through predominately black neighborhoods, but in Mississippi the landowners are mostly white and the parcels much larger. 

"We're talking about farmland we are talking about cow pastures we are talking about generational land so the impact here is pretty big," said Pilcher.

But he adds, concerns about a pipeline being built on an aquifer are the same whether you're in Memphis or Mississippi.

"Here is called the Memphis Sands aquifer there it's called the Sparta aquifer, but we know that this   life and its related to our livelihood," said Justin Pearson, MCAP spokesperson.

Justin Pearson with the Memphis Community against the pipeline says his group is joining the group, Mississippi Environmental Stewards to fight the Byhalia connector and educate people about the pipeline's potential impact.

"What we realize is we are all reliant on the same drinking water source we are all relying on the same natural resource to survive," said Pearson.

"If we had a leak, it would impact our main water source it would impact Coldwater River it would impact  Arkabutla, so the concerns we have are the same as the concerns Memphis," said Pilcher.

RELATED: Actress Cybill Shepherd comes back to Memphis to join march against Byhalia Pipeline

RELATED: “Someone is trying to rob us;” Civil rights leader visits Memphis for Byhalia Pipeline protest

Pilcher said  it's easier under Mississippi law a company to claim eminent domain and take land, which is why many of the Mississippi landowners gave up their court battles.

"The laws need to change in Mississippi for sure. Tennessee,  we protect land and private property as a state regardless of political affiliation. It is important here and it doesn't seem to be the same for the laws in Mississippi," said Pearson.

Pilcher says the pipeline impacts not just the landowners... but the entire community.

"The big call out is that it's time for the elected officials to step in. They have been silent for a while now," said Pilcher.

Before You Leave, Check This Out