The public is being asked to fill out the North Carolina Access Survey by March 4 on government access issues faced by communities that are underserved, overburdened and have historically been left out of the participatory process.
The purpose of the survey is to start a dialogue with members of the public and help state agency officials better understand the issues and challenges that the public faces when interacting with state agencies, and to identify ways to improve public access and enhance transparency of state government, according to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s Environmental Justice Program.
Gov. Roy Cooper signed in January Executive Order No. 246, North Carolina’s Transformation to a Clean, Equitable Economy. “This Order includes several provisions that underscore the importance of environmental justice and equity as we make the transition a clean, equitable economy,” according to an email from his office about the survey.
The order directs each ”Cabinet agency to develop an agency public participation plan” based on stakeholder input. Though state agencies have until the first of June to develop plans, Cooper’s office determined it will be useful to develop a model plan each agency can use to create their own plans. The Regulatory Assistance Project is to develop the model.
The order also directs cabinet agencies to name an environmental justice and equity lead. Cabinet agency leads have been appointed and are listed on the Cabinet Agency Environmental Justice and Equity Leads website, which states the following duties of each EJ lead:
- Serve as the agency point person for environmental justice efforts.
- Inform development and implementation of the agency public participation plan described in Section 8 of the executive order.
- Work with EJ leads in other agencies to share and coordinate related activities, best practices and relevant data.
- Identify, describe, and post on a readily available page of the agency’s website agency decisions that significantly impact or may significantly impact underserved communities.
- Increase awareness among agency leadership and staff of the history and current impacts of environmental, economic and racial injustice.
- Take additional actions as appropriate to further the directives of the order.