Raleigh May 4, 2020 DEQ has successfully increased equity, transparency and environmental protection in the permitting of swine operations under the 2018 Title VI settlement agreement with citizen groups, which expired on May 3, 2020. Title VI is a federal civil rights law that requires agency recipients of federal funds to act in a nondiscriminatory manner. DEQ has produced a report (available online) which details the Department’s significant progress on community engagement and transparency and the fulfillment of the terms of the agreement. “Since 2017, this department has prioritized the fair and equitable treatment of all North Carolinians and while there is more work to do, we’ve made great strides in making our decisions more inclusive, transparent and responsive to community members,” said Secretary Michael S. Regan. “We now have a swine General Permit that is more protective of public health and the environment than at any time in the past 20 years. The Community Mapping System empowers community members, elected officials and business leaders statewide with a wealth of information for planning prior to the Department’s permitting process.” The report provides an overview of DEQ efforts to improve permitting of swine operations, current compliance of the general permit program with Title VI requirements, and finds DEQ’s enhancements over the past two years will ensure meaningful public involvement of affected communities in decision-making related to the Swine General Permit program. Since 2017, DEQ has developed a stronger swine General Permit through a robust stakeholder process; implemented the Community Mapping System with Environmental Justice Tool as a resource for all residents of North Carolina; hired a Title VI and Environmental Justice Coordinator and chartered the Secretary’s Environmental Justice and Equity Board; and conducted air quality and water quality monitoring studies in communities near hog farms. The report is available online here.