A proposed pipeline that would have run between north Mississippi and southwest Tennessee will not be built. The Byhalia Connection, a nearly 49-mile pipeline would have connected two existing crude oil pipelines:
- The Diamond Pipeline, which provides the Valero Memphis Refinery with crude oil to produce gasoline and jet fuels used by people in eight states throughout this region, including Tennessee and Mississippi
- The Capline Pipeline, which runs between central Illinois and the U.S. Gulf Coast
According to the Byhalia Connection, the route in Shelby County, TN, accounts for seven miles of the total project route. Nearly 86 percent of the project route, or 42 miles of pipeline, crosses portions of DeSoto and Marshall Counties in Mississippi.
On Friday, the company issued the following statement regarding their decision to abandon the project.
“Byhalia Connection LLC is no longer pursuing the Byhalia Connection construction project primarily due to lower US oil production resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. We value the relationships we’ve built through the development of this project, and appreciate those that supported the project and would have shared in its ongoing benefits including our customers, communities, energy consumers, landowners, area contractors, and suppliers.”
“Pipelines continue to play a critical role in safely transporting energy products from where energy is produced to where it is refined and turned into consumer goods that benefit our lives. As part of any shift to lower carbon energy, hydrocarbons will continue to be a critical part of meeting increasing global need for affordable, reliable energy. Access to all forms of energy improves quality of life, education and economic opportunity for individuals and communities throughout North America and across the globe.”
The pipeline had come under heavy scrutiny from environmentalists and some heavy hitters such as former Vice President Al Gore. Gore, who spoke at a rally in Memphis in April said, the reckless placement of the pipeline would run through lower-income, majority-black neighborhoods in South Memphis and over a major water aquifer.
During the rally, he stated, “You know, somebody once said a gaffe is when somebody accidentally tells the truth,” said Gore. “When the pipeline representatives said this is the path of least resistance, that was a gaffe, because he told the truth accidentally. Least resistance? I see a lot of resistance here today. If this does not suffice to convince the county commission and the city council to make the right decisions, this resistance ain’t nothing compared to what they’re gonna see if they try to keep going with this.”
In an open letter to the public in March, Roy Lamoreaux, Vice President of Plains All American, cited the numerous advantages that construction of the pipeline would bring to the mid-South:
- An economic infusion of more than $14 million to the Mid-South area during construction and will pay property taxes every year the line is in service – including an estimated $500,000 annually in Shelby County alone.
- Projects like this can reduce train and truck traffic. According to the Department of Transportation, it would require a constant line of 750 tanker trucks per day, loading up and moving out every two minutes, 24-hours a day, seven days a week, to move the volume of even a modest pipeline like ours. The railroad equivalent of this single pipeline would be 225 28,000-gallon tank cars, or more than 2 trains per day, every day.
- This project strengthens the long-term viability of the Valero Memphis refinery and its more than 500 employees and contractors, making the refinery more competitive as it produces transportation fuels and other products essential to life.
- It’s also a $150+ million investment in American infrastructure – buying U.S.-made pumps, pipe material and valves, and employing local companies to support construction.
Following news of the cancellation of the pipeline, Gore tweeted his congratulations to those who fought against it.
— Al Gore (@algore) July 3, 2021
The Byhalia Connection Pipeline is owned by Byhalia Pipeline LLC, a joint venture between a subsidiary of Plains All American Pipeline, L.P.