Justin J. Pearson (upper left), chairman of Memphis Community Against the Pipeline, sets the context for Monday's virtual rally against the proposed Byhalia Pipeline. (Screen capture)

Keenly aware that construction on the proposed Byhalia Pipeline was projected to begin this month, participants Monday afternoon on a virtual ZOOM protest signaled their continuing resolve to stop the venture altogether.

A key Memphis City Council resolution regarding the pipeline project is on the agenda for Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting, which has been reset because of the storm that has much of the area shut down

“It (council consideration of the resolution) will happen on the 23rd, next Tuesday,” said Justin J. Pearson, chairman of Memphis Community Against the Pipeline (MCAP). “This gives us more time to continue building our coalition.”

Several elected officials, who have taken a stand against the pipeline, joined Monday’s collaborative conference discussion.

Congressman Steve Cohen pledged action in Washington with the Secretary of Transportation. Cohen committed to work “federally” with the Transportation Committee to propose banning all pipeline construction.

Memphis City Councilman Edmund Ford Sr. told participants he would push for a ban on pipeline construction in committee next week before the resolution comes to a full council vote.

The resolution to either allow the pipeline or vote it down was introduced by Councilman Dr. Jeff Warren. Councilwoman Patrice Jordan Robinson, who has expressed support for the community, had questions about the city council resolution.

“Our job is to represent the interest of those in our district,” she said. “But I consulted with some individuals who have worked with the pipeline. From my understanding, all they needed were two permits: one from the U.S. Court and the other from the Tennessee Environment and Conservation Division. They have them both.”

Last Monday (Feb. 8), the Shelby County Board of Commissioners delayed a vote on whether the Byhalia Connection Company would be allowed to purchase land in the 38109 ZIP code.

Pearson and other opponents of the pipeline continued voicing concerns about oil spills, pollution of the water and soil and the lack of safety measures to prevent such a catastrophe.

All-Plains American, purveyor of the Byhalia Connection and other pipelines around the nation, did not release an additional statement. Press inquiries were referred to a prior statement detailing a commitment to speak with residents with questions about the pipeline. That statement also conveyed a commitment to stay open to being more responsive to community concerns.

Monday’s discussion included an update by Marie Odum, spokesperson for her father, Clyde Robinson, who has accused the Byhalia Pipeline operators of trying to take their family land.

“My father said he feels like they are trying to take something he has worked hard for,” said Odum. “My dad said he feels like he felt when they would work all day and  get paid $2.00 a day.”

Odum said Robinson was being taken to court by the pipeline to “take the land” because her father told Byhalia Connection that he didn’t want to sell it for the price they were offering.

“First, they offered my father zero dollars,” said Odum. “Then they offered him $750 – little of nothing. He refused to sign, so they are taking him to court and trying to take the land by eminent domain.”

Byhalia Connection representatives are adamant that they are not trying to “steal anyone’s land,” characterizing the legal procedure as a “simple easement dispute.”