Meeting Monitor Program

The Meeting Monitor Program, a core tenet of our Cleaner and Greener Communities Initiative, has the potential to impact thousands of disenfranchised and underserved communities throughout North Carolina (NC) and beyond.

We feel strongly we have implemented a universal environmental education/training model that can be shared with communities throughout the Southeast. Our meeting monitor program not only offers free environmental education/training opportunities to residents with a desire and willingness to serve as public meeting monitors, but also promotes building a grassroots movement of advocates, working to foster greater environmental decisions at the root cause of dirty industry landing in our backyards – local level zoning approval. This free environmental education opportunity is open to the public, including public officials and high school and college students longing to become more knowledgeable about the environment and potential industrial impacts, particularly as impactful environmental decisions are being considered.

Like other states, businesses and industries seeking to operate in North Carolina must first obtain certain zoning and classification approval from local public officials BEFORE operating permits are issued at the state level. Whether it is a lack of information, timeliness or transparency, there are underlying issues that significantly impede a community’s ability to raise concerns BEFORE a vote of approval.

The purpose of our meeting monitor program is to address the ROOT CAUSE of dirty industry’s exploitation of vulnerable communities at the local level. We achieve this by creating a grassroots movement of community members by offering free environmental education and training on environmental terminology and providing them with a stipend and resources to attend local planning and zoning meetings as decisions are considered, not made.

During the meeting, trained monitors record notes regarding business applicants and in the event a business with a poor environmental record is an applicant, our meeting monitors will research and obtain information on the applicant to share with voting officials and the community at large. 

Launched in 2022, working alongside other coalition members, the first environmental education training session was conducted in July 2023, and the first monitored planning and zoning meetings were held in August 2023. We launched with three counties in the Eastern NC region, which is home to 4 of the top 5 poorest counties in North Carolina.

This program can make a difference as proven by what occurred in Lumberton NC when Active Energy Renewable Power (AERP) (producer of “pellet cakes” – wood chips with chicken parts) applied for approval to purchase a retired textile mill for use as a production facility. Several community members raised concerns at local meetings about AERP, contacted environmental organizations throughout the state (including NCCSC) and as a result, a countywide call to action alerted residents and businesses about AERP’s poor environmental record and its purchase was defeated. (Active Energy selling Lumberton wood pellet site | NC Newsline).