NC Executive Order Focuses on Environmental Justice, Public Input
Wednesday, January 12, 2022
Gov. Roy Cooper has signed a new executive order that directs cabinet agencies to consider issues of environmental justice when taking actions related to climate change, resilience and clean energy. Conservation groups are applauding the move.
The state will appoint an Environmental Justice Lead at each cabinet agency, tasked with increasing local residents' participation when projects are likely to affect their neighborhoods.
Daisha Williams, environmental justice manager with the group CleanAIRE NC, said providing a "point person" to tackle these issues will boost collaboration between state agencies.
"When they work together," she said, "it will result, of course, in more direct engagement with not only the agencies themselves but impacted communities to implement the needed remedies to foster the creative solutions that we need."
The order also called for more funding to increase public awareness about the health-related effects of climate change, and provide public updates on air pollution and heat-related illness risks and their disproportionate effects on Black and Brown communities.
Bonita Green, president of the Merrick Moore Community Development Corp., said she supports the executive order, adding that residents in her historically Black and increasing gentrified neighborhood feel they've been shut out of conversations on proposed development.
"The community is frustrated," she said, "the fact that development is just being shoved down our throats, and we have nothing to say about how our neighborhoods or communities are being developed."
Ron Ross, president of the Northwood Estates Community Organization in Charlotte, said families there are dealing with chronic health conditions from a lifetime of breathing polluted air. He said he believes the governor's latest action is a step in the right direction "for the communities that I live in - that are surrounded by highways, industrial facilities and so forth, and continue to be exposed to those situations on a daily basis."
The order also requires the state to update a greenhouse-gas inventory, to measure current levels of greenhouse-gas emissions and seek potential pathways to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
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