The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and justice groups reach settlement
By Kate Ayers
The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and local environmental justice groups reached a settlement on Thursday outlining the need for policy changes for hog farm emissions.
These changes are intended to ensure that the state’s monitoring of emissions from hog farms does not discriminate against communities based on race and national origin.
The North Carolina Environmental Justice Network, Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help, and Waterkeeper Alliance put forth a complaint to DEQ, a Meatingplace article said yesterday.
The complainant accused the agency of allowing large-scale swine farms to operate with “grossly inadequate and outdated systems of controlling animal waste,” causing an “unjustified disproportionate impact on the basis of race and national origin against African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans,” the article said.
The issue began in 2013 when the state released draft permits to control animal waste, one being the Swine Waste Management System General Permit.
The plaintiffs asked for changes to the general permit, requesting the DEQ “assess the racial and ethnic impact of the permitting program” before it was enacted, the article said. They wanted to ensure measures were in place to protect communities from swine operation emissions.
When DEQ finalized the swine general permit in March 2014, the environmental groups filed a complaint with the Environmental Protection Agency.
Following four years of negotiations, the two sides reached an agreement.
One new requirement is that the DEQ establish a stakeholder process, the article said.
The aim is to make the permit process more transparent and inclusive for all parties involved, such as providing meeting notices in the relevant languages for local communities.
The settlement also calls for an Environmental Justice tool to identify demographic, health, and environmental aspects of communities influenced by DEQ policies, the article said.
Other changes will be discussed in the upcoming stakeholder process for the next swine general permit.
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