Environmental Mapping Tool Will 'Empower Communities' With More Data

Environmental Mapping Tool Will 'Empower Communities' With More Data

1:37pm May 21, 2019
State environmental regulators say the new community mapping system is a first for North Carolina. It will include all permitted facilities in the state, including coal ash sites like the Belews Creek plant. NCDEQ says it will enhance transparency and sharing of information to empower communities, local governments, and other stakeholders in their discussions. KERI BROWN/WFDD

North Carolina environmental regulators are launching an online resource to give more information about pollution and health in the state.

The state Department of Environmental Quality will go live with the North Carolina Community Mapping System on Thursday.

"It will give them a picture of what their current community looks like in terms of permitted facilities,"  says NCDEQ Secretary Michael Regan.

Users will be able to look at any permitted facility in the state. You can play around with the system to find out about things like water and air quality, demographics, and health information in the area.

Regan says it will also include an environmental justice screening tool that community leaders and residents can access when discussing an industry.

“This tool creates an opportunity for a level playing field in terms of to access to data, so that both parties can discuss the future of their community and what they want their community to look like,” says Regan.

The mapping tool is part of a legal settlement over a federal civil rights complaint. It was filed by environmental groups alleging that the agency’s permitting process for swine farms disproportionately impacted people of color in low-income communities.

*You can follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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