The Voice of Business, Industry & the Professions Since 1942
North Carolina's largest business group proudly serves as the state chamber of commerce

Environmental Justice

POSITION: The question has been raised as to whether North Carolina should undertake efforts or implement standards beyond those that might already apply from EPA to incorporate concepts of “environmental justice” into siting or permitting of facilities within the State. NCCBI does not believe that any plant or other facility with demonstrated adverse environmental impacts should be located because of the race or other identifiable and immutable characteristics of a defined population, where there would be demonstrable adverse impacts to the health or safety of that population due to exposures to chemicals or other substances at levels above state or federal standards or levels of safety. However, NCCBI opposes the current environmental justice initiative now being implemented by the federal Environmental Protection Agency pursuant to a 1994 Presidential Order, and NCCBI would strongly oppose any effort or proposal to implement a similar approach in North Carolina.


“Environmental Justice” is a loosely defined and often subjective concept. There is substantial disagreement as to its meaning and even greater controversy as to the need or advisability of its implementation.

North Carolina already has a very open process of permitting new sites and major modifications at existing facilities which almost uniformly incorporates concepts of notice and a potential for public comment and even public hearings in many instances. Through this process, any population can and historically have expressed any opinion or beliefs that they have held that a facility was being located at a certain place because of the nature of persons in the surrounding community, or similar complaints. This public discussion serves as the best antidote to ensure that facilities are not located because of the race or immutable characteristics of the surrounding population. Any attempt to incorporate any further concepts of “justice” into this system will only polarize and further politicize the permitting process. Implementation of a concept like “environmental justice, “ in the form that it is taking with EPA, is contrary to sound planning and economic development, as well as the overall interest of the surrounding communities.

North Carolina has some of the best environmental programs in the country, implementing some of the most stringent environmental standards. Any plant to be located within the State will have demonstrated prospective compliance with those programs and standards. As a result, that facility should and will be a good and acceptable neighbor to any community. NCCBI does not believe it would be a “injustice” to locate such a facility within the community.

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