Environmental and community activists recently celebrated a victory after two oil companies called off plans to build an oil pipeline that would have passed through wetlands and low-income minority neighborhoods in Memphis, according to The Washington Post.
Valero and Plains All American Pipeline had planned to construct the Byhalia Connection pipeline, which would have been 49 miles long and linked two pipelines that transport crude oil to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.
The two companies recently announced they were canceling the project “due to lower U.S. oil production resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic," but opponents of the pipeline said that the announcement followed grassroots organizing by climate action advocates, homeowners and elected officials.
The pipeline would have also passed through well fields above the Memphis Sand Aquifer, which provides drinking water to the Memphis area.
Those against the project feared that an oil spill would have endangered waterways and likely contaminated water in wells located along the planned route.
The company had said the pipeline would be built a safe distance from the aquifer, which is located much deeper than the planned pipeline route.
Opponents also said the project hinted of environmental racism — the practice of locating harmful factories, landfills and other polluters in minority neighborhoods and indigenous areas, where voiceless residents realize the hazard only after people get sick.