Broken Ground

Broken Ground

Broken Ground is a podcast produced by the Southern Environmental Law Center digging up environmental stories in the South.

Episodes

October 10, 2022 2 min

Hear how a small group of neighbors in southwest Memphis built a coalition strong enough to defeat a crude oil pipeline. And listen for lessons you can take back to your own community.  
Join us this season as we head to Boxtown, Tennessee to uncover the stories behind how this community and its allies secured a victory once thought impossible through grassroots organizing, legal advocacy, and unwavering determination. 
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An announcement late on the Friday of a holiday weekend is a classic move. And in the case of the Byhalia Pipeline it is an end so abrupt many don’t believe it. But it’s true. What quickly becomes apparent is that, while Memphis has won this battle, the war against environmental racism and the systems that support it is far from over. From coal ash to Superfund sites, Memphians are now applying the lessons they learned to the conti...

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September 8, 2022 29 min

With a federal permit approved and state officials supporting the project, in the spring of 2021 the Byhalia Pipeline has momentum on its side. But opponents aren’t giving up as they bring national attention to the project and turn to local elected officials for help, all while still in court questioning a private oil company’s right to take property owners’ land. It’s a season of two steps forward, one step back. 

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August 25, 2022 31 min

As aquifer advocates and the residents of southwest Memphis in the path of the pipeline began looking for help pushing back against Byhalia’s plans, they quickly learned not to assume who would join their cause. From city councilpeople and county commissioners to attorneys and media outlets, the first people to step up weren’t always who they expected.

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August 11, 2022 29 min

While pipeline developers deploy common tactics to secure support, like spreading donations around the community, organizers look for allies among their elected officials. Reporter Carrington Tatum also starts covering the story and amplifying voices going unheard. Many of those voices belong to Black landowners getting legal notices that pipeline developers plan to take a portion of their land, forever, in exchange for a meager on...

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July 28, 2022 30 min

All of Memphis drinks from a world-class underground source, known as the Memphis Sand Aquifer. The realization that the Byhalia Connection crude oil pipeline, planned for southwest Memphis, could endanger they city's water draws new allies into the pipeline fight. Soon, environmentalists like Ward Archer and Sarah Houston of Protect Our Aquifer are organizing alongside MCAP co-founders Kathy Robinson, Kizzy Jones, and Justin J...

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July 14, 2022 35 min

It was a throw away line by an out of town pipeline representative but it struck a nerve and came to define much of the resistance to the Byhalia Pipeline. In this episode hear the origin story of the phrase that rang throughout the fight: “the point of least resistance.” Intended as an engineering answer to a question about the pipeline route, it came to encapsulate so much of what the pipeline fight was about. And getting it out ...

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July 1, 2022 34 min

This is Boxtown, a neighborhood in southwest Memphis founded by formerly enslaved people who put down deep roots and residents who cherish their ties to this land. It’s also a neighborhood that’s seen decades of government neglect, while more and more polluting industries moved into the area. So, when the community first heard about plans for a crude oil pipeline that would cut through their neighborhood, they wanted to know more. ...

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Brenda Mallory, former Director of Regulatory Policy at SELC, sat down with us in December 2020 before joining the Biden administration as Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and reflected on how the federal government can engage a broad coalition to embed environmental justice principles across the country. 

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Chandra Taylor is the leader of SELC's Environmental Justice Initiative. Her ongoing work in North Carolina includes cleanups at contaminated industrial sites and an end to unchecked water pollution in Black communities. 
"It's not going to be just conservationists who turn the tide on global climate change. It's going to take a lot of people. It's going to take the everyday environmentalist."

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Catherine Coleman Flowers was recently named to the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. A 2020 MacArthur Genius Grant recipient, her environmental health research brought to light the failing wastewater infrastructure in rural parts of the South. She
spoke with Broken Ground about how systemic racism and classism have played a large part in this crisis and how it led her to found the Center for Rural Enterprise and E...

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Heather McTeer Toney stumbled into environmental justice work as the Mayor of Greenville, Mississippi. After moving on as EPA administrator and now as a Senior Adviser at Mom’s Clean Air Force, Toney talks about how to wrap climate justice around social justice and how her faith is inextricably woven into her work fighting climate change.

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April 15, 2021 33 sec

The latest season of Broken Ground, featuring women in the South on the frontlines of fighting for environmental justice, launches this Earth Day, Thursday, April 22. 

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September 22, 2020 13 min

Find out what we learned about sea level rise in the South. Who will be hit the hardest? What can we do? How can we navigate a path forward?

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August 26, 2020 32 min

In Norfolk, Virginia scientists battling sea level rise enlist residents to help collect data that could help the city better understand its rising tides and flooding problems.

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August 11, 2020 33 min

In Charleston, South Carolina and its suburbs questions of environmental justice and wetland protections arise as development encroaches.

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July 28, 2020 36 min

In Norfolk, Virginia homeowners like Karen Speights are struggling with the hard decision of staying put in rising waters or finding a way to start over. Meanwhile, the city is hoping it can buy people time.

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July 14, 2020 29 min

With waters rising in Charleston, South Carolina we explore what, if any, breaking point there is for people living and working in this city. And we talk to city officials about making the big decisions of what, and what not, to build when trying to keep a flooding city livable.

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June 29, 2020 33 min

Norfolk, Virginia's waters are rising fast, and its land is sinking. The city's plans to meet this climate change challenge could be a blueprint for other coastal communities. Among other plans, Norfolk has set it sights on revamping its aging public housing complexes. We'll talk to folks living in one of these communities about what adaptation will mean for them. 

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June 9, 2020 29 min

Chesapeake Requiem: A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island. He talks about the slow disappearance of this unique Virginia island to climate change.

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