Broken Ground

By Southern Environmental Law Center

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Subscribers: 94
Reviews: 1
Episodes: 30

 May 24, 2021


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

Episode Date
How Memphis Beat The Odds To Stop A Pipeline, Trailer

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. 
Learn more at 

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Oct 10, 2022
Lesson 7: Do It Again

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 continuing fight for thriving communities, ones with the clean air and clean water that is every person’s right.

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Sep 22, 2022
Lesson 6: Hold On

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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Sep 08, 2022
Lesson 5: Embrace Your Allies

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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Aug 25, 2022
Lesson 4: Call 'Em Out

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 one-time payment. But a few of them aren't sold on the deal. 

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Aug 11, 2022
Lesson 3: Dig In

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. Pearson. The fight, which started as a neighborhood struggle against environmental racism, becomes a city-wide crusade for clean water. As Kathy Robinson says, "If it affects one of us, it affects all of us." 

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Jul 28, 2022
Lesson 2: Raise a Ruckus

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 publicly began to draw new resisters to the fight. 

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Jul 14, 2022
Lesson 1: Nobody Asks

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. They didn’t like what they learned.

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Jul 01, 2022
Brenda Mallory: Federal Action on Environmental Justice

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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Jun 03, 2021
Chandra Taylor: The Impact of Everyday Environmentalists

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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May 20, 2021
Catherine Coleman Flowers: When Listening Becomes Activism

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 Environmental Justice. 

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May 06, 2021
Heather McTeer Toney: Wrapping Communities in Climate Justice

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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Apr 22, 2021
New Season Coming Earth Day, April 22

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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Apr 16, 2021

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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Sep 23, 2020
Uncharted Territory

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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Aug 27, 2020
Progress for Who?

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

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Aug 12, 2020
Flood City

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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Jul 29, 2020
Breaking Point

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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Jul 15, 2020
Gardening Tidewaters

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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Jun 30, 2020
Earl Swift: Watching Waters Rise

Earl Swift is author of 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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Jun 09, 2020
Margaret Renkl: Backyard Environmentalism

Author and New York Times contributing opinion writer Margaret Renkl talks about her book Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss. Renkl's essays reflect on the intersection of family life, grief and her natural surroundings.

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May 19, 2020
Dr. Robert Bullard: Environmental Justice Is Equal Justice

Dr. Robert Bullard, widely considered the father of environmental justice, talks about the inequality of pollution and climate change.

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May 05, 2020
Drew Lanham: Call of the Rural South

Author and wildlife biologist Drew Lanham talks about his book, The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature. Lanham discusses his love of birds, his South Carolina homeplace, and reconciling the South’s legacy of hate with its beauty.

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Apr 21, 2020
Season 2 Trailer
Apr 20, 2020
Riding the Solar Coaster

Solar energy is growing by leaps and bounds in the Southeast and becoming a way for schools to save money.  In this episode, we visit two Virginia schools to better understand the key role policies play in whether schools can go solar. 

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Jul 01, 2019
Demand for Power

An elderly couple steps up to defend their farm and neighbors when pipeline developers won’t back down from a risky, environmentally damaging project that – after years of delay – is now obsolete.

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Jun 04, 2019
The Real Housewives of Coal Ash

When two North Carolina women received letters from state officials that their water wasn’t safe to drink due to coal ash pollution, they fought it all the way to the state house.

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May 05, 2019
Tip of the Ashberg

The 2008 Kingston, Tennessee coal ash spill was disastrous at the time, but what came a decade later would reveal the full devastation of the tragedy.

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Apr 18, 2019
Broken Ground Season 1 Trailer

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

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Apr 15, 2019
Broken Ground Episode 1 Trailer
Apr 12, 2019