Environmental Justice

Environmental Justice

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

Fair treatment means that no population bears a disproportionate share of negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, municipal, and commercial operations or from the execution of federal, state and local laws, regulations and policies. 

Meaningful involvement requires effective access to decision makers for all, and the ability in all communities to make informed decisions and take positive actions to protect and improve the environment in their communities.


The goals of Forsyth County’s Office of Environmental Assistance and Protection (EAP) are to protect public health and the environment of Forsyth County by minimizing the impacts of environmental contaminants, educating the public about pollution prevention and promoting conservation of natural resources in the community. EAP is a local air quality agency. We regulate all of the air pollution sources in Forsyth County instead of the NC DEQ. Local, state and federal air quality regulations help protect the quality of our air by limiting air pollution from industries and other air pollution sources. While all sources of air pollution must comply with Air Quality Regulations, some industries and businesses must also apply for permits to construct and operate air pollution sources.

Environmental Concerns in Your Community

EAP’s environmental justice program strives to ensure the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies. If you have any environmental questions or concerns, please call EAP or send an email to Matt Brickey to learn how you can be informed about environmental decisions affecting your community. Visit our Public Notices page to learn about important local air quality issues.


The environmental justice movement was started by individuals who sought to address the inequity of environmental protection in their community. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s sounded the alarm about the public health danger for their families, their communities and themselves. On February 11, 1994, President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations. This action was made to focus federal attention on the environmental and human health conditions of minority and low-income populations with the goal of achieving environmental protection for all communities.

On September 24, 2022, the EPA announced the creation of the Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights (OEJECR). The purpose of OEJECR is to provide Community Support; Policy, Partnerships and Program Development; External Civil Rights Compliance; and Conflict Prevention and Resolution. OEJECR will help fulfill the commitments of Justice40 by ensuring that 40 percent of benefits of large categories of investments go to communities that have been underserved and environmentally overburdened. Justice40 is a whole-of-government approach and is jointly led by the Council on Environmental Quality, Office of Management and Budget, and the White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council.