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Byhalia Pipeline touts $1 million in donations to Mid-South charities

The Byhalia Connection Pipeline has released donation numbers to Mid-South charities indicating that 2020’s benevolent giving totaled $1 million.

Nonprofit organizations and community outreach entities in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi received monetary donations of up to $25,000 and other in-kind assistance. The trail of generosity ran all along the pipeline’s projected route.

The Byhalia Connection Pipeline is a proposed crude oil pipeline from the Valero Refinery in Shelby County, Tennessee to the Valero Collierville Terminal Facility in Marshall County, Mississippi. It would connect two major existing crude oil pipeline systems, linking the Diamond Pipeline, originating in Cushing, Oklahoma, to the Capline System, which extends from Central Illinois to the Gulf Coast.

The actual work on the pipeline will begin in a few weeks and is scheduled to be completed in nine months.

Congressman Steve Cohen on Friday requested answers on Byhalia Connection Pipeline from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Headquarters.

Read his letter: 2021.1.8- Rep. Cohen Letter – Byhalia Pipeline (1)

Plains All-American Pipeline Communications Manager Katie Martin said it is “our normal practice to come in and ask people who live and work in the community where our help may be needed. …

“When we come in, we want to be an honest, integral part of the community. And Memphis is no exception.”

A number of informational meetings have been held over the past year between members of the community and the Plains All-American communications team. Concerns have been consistently expressed by Westwood and Boxtown community residents regarding issues such as safety, oil leaks and pollution of the soil and water.

Several of those meetings have been held at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church-Westwood, where the Rev. Melvin Watkins is pastor.

“Getting a good understanding is important,” said Watkins. “Those in opposition do not represent the whole community, but they have a right to be heard. Many have expressed issues about gas lines running in the ground. MLGW has gas lines running all over Memphis. So, communicating effectively will be important as the project moves forward.”

Martin said that Community Advisory Panels (CAP) have been formed in all three counties where the pipeline will run.

“We want to make a real impact in these communities,” Martin said. “A more centralized group will give us greater access. COVID-19 happened, and fortunately, we were nimble and able to adjust.”

Ruth Rawlings-Banks, proprietor of Feed the Needy and executive director of Westwood’s Helping Hands Community Outreach, said the “Byhalia Pipeline people have been a blessing to her organizations.

“We needed the monetary donation, but I told them we needed help with a vehicle to deliver our food baskets. And I also told them we needed warehouse space to store the food.”

Rawlings-Banks said within two weeks of speaking to company representatives, they gifted her a 2015 Toyota Forerunner with a hitch. They also helped secure warehouse space.

“People have to give them a chance,” Rawlings-Banks said. “Those gifts helped us add to our tool bucket. We were able to deliver 3,600 food baskets to needy families in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi, not just in Memphis. We welcome them as a caring partner.”

Charitable donations also were given to the Memphis City Library Foundation, Ida B. Wells Statue Project, NAACP, Man-Up Teacher Fellowship and the Mid-South Food Bank. 

Cathy Pope, president and CEO of Mid-South Food Bank, said donations from Byhalia Pipeline helped provide 225,000 meals to area families.

Dr. Patrick Washington, founder of the Man-Up Teacher Fellowship, an organization dedicated to increasing the number of male teachers of color in local classrooms, said, “Because of their donations, our organization placed 54 additional teachers in classrooms throughout the City of Memphis and Shelby County.

Martin said the company will continue to look for more opportunities to help.

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