"Activist Justin J. Pearson had barely finished one environmental fight before he realized he needed to get involved in another.
Pearson, co-founder of Memphis Against the Pipeline, was a leader in a community pushback against the Byhalia Pipeline, a 49-mile oil conduit through historically Black Memphis neighborhoods. Activists said it was a prime example of environmental racism.
The pipeline spurred protests that eventually attracted national attention before Byhalia developers called a halt to the pipeline development in July, citing the pandemic as having significantly affected oil production.
City officials moved to create ordinances to protect residents and the aquifer from future risks of pollution, but before they could finalize the legislation, another environmental fight was simmering.
The Tennessee Valley Authority is preparing to store coal ash, a by-product of coal burning, in Southeast Memphis. And by the time TVA officials made the announcement, Pearson and other Memphis residents learned there’s little they can do about keeping coal ash, which can be toxic, out of South Memphis.
The council had known of the pending environmental problem for several years."