North Carolina, USA

Local Civil Society Organizations working on Environmental Justice issues in North Carolina. 

1. Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League

BREDL is currently working on blocking the landfilling of coal ash from Duke Energy’s plants. They are working alongside county commissioners to ensure the protection of ground and surface water from industrial and hazardous waste. Other program areas include monitoring drinking water, particulate air pollution, and campaigns to ban fracking operations, particularly on public lands. BREDL also hosts skill-building workshops, including leadership and strategic planning, for local chapters. They have successfully shut down industrial incineration operations in NC.


2. Catawba RiverKeeper

Catawba focuses on sustaining clean water ecosystems. Their outreach involves EJ components, as they educate community members on the impacts of dirty water on their lives and train them to monitor water quality. They also organize and advocate, through the lense of public health. Catawba holds community meetings to ensure a “two-way dialogue” throughout their advocacy. Advocacy is practiced by testifying at public hearings, providing organizational comments on proposed legislation, meeting with legislators, and engaging in litigation. In 2016, they secured the cleanup of 5.1 million tons of coal ash along Mountain Island Lake.


3. Clean Air Carolina

CAC collaborates with policy makers, builds coalitions with other like-organizations, and hosts community education programs to advocate for improved air quality. Their programs include citizen-science training to monitor and report local air pollution levels. They also work with local schools and hospitals. Their website includes a resource library with guidelines to advocating local government officials, bilingual air quality indices, online courses, and local training opportunities. CAC’s main accomplishment has been the growth of its participation base and partnerships since 2003.


4. Clean Water for North Carolina

CWNC has a “water justice” campaign that is attempting to fight for affordability and accountability in water and wastewater services. They coordinate door-to-door outreach operations and organize grassroots advocacy events. In certain cases, they bring litigation complaints against violators, several of which have resulted in cessation of the permitting process. Their website provides EJ and technical research, as well as resources for water testing. They offer bilingual workshops with the aim of informing disadvantaged communities of their rights. CWNC also works with communities to mitigate impacts from hog farms and fracking operations.


5. EnvironmentaLee

EL is a group of county residents that organize information sharing and activism events aimed at fighting threats to their local environment. They work on coal ash and fracking issues, among others, and their website serves as a public source of information on these issues. A recent achievement occurred in April when a judge ruled in their favor to limit coal ash disposal and future excavation by Duke Energy.


6. Frack Free NC

An umbrella organization of local and national non-profits pushing to ban fracking and the construction of natural gas pipelines. Their website offers resources on the public health and environmental concerns of fracking, as well as relevant local resolutions and ordinances. They have also built a “how to” guide for citizens to participate in advocating to their local governments for the ban. Their main accomplishment has been bringing together 29 state and local civil society organizations to be part of the “Frack Free NC Alliance.”


7. Good Stewards of Rockingham

A group of local community members who engage in information sharing activities through organizational meeting and community events. They host political forums and presentations from relevant actors that are open to the public. It is not clear how they otherwise engage with the law or government officials. They are concerned with coal ash and fracking contamination.



8. Mountain True

MT seeks to engage communities to actively protect, restore, and advocate for their local environment. They work to engage broad public participation in local politics by educating and organizing residents in support of local ecosystems. In 2013 they worked with a broad stakeholder group to conduct a technical analysis of conditions in the Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest and develop a plan for investment. They have also coordinated efforts which led to the closing of polluting industrial operations.


9. NC Warn

NC Warn is has created an online information portal for the intersection of electricity generation and “climate justice” while focusing that information on NC impacts. They also work toward regulatory changes and make direct appeals for cooperation to industry. They have built a coalition to pursue grassroots activism, support technical analysis and legal changes, and provide media exposure. They have been a part of coalitions that have closed multiple incineration operations and toxic waste dumps.


10. Southern Environmental Law Center

SELC is a national (“top-down”) organization; however, they have done a substantial amount of work on the issues you had highlighted, in both Virginia and North Carolina. Their recent priorities in these states have been addressing coal ash and fracking pollution, and keeping these operations out of protected areas. SELC litigates against legislation that is contradictory to a sustainable community and advocates for new legislation. SELC’s top achievements include compelling Duke Energy to clean up 8 coal ash sites in North Carolina (the largest industrial pollution clean up to date) and successfully opposing offshore drilling in VA and NC.


11. Yadkin Riverkeeper

YRK works on coal ash and fracking contamination projects. Their current focus is working with the Dukeville community to monitor the situation at Duke Energy’s oldest power plant “Buck Steam Station,” which is under a cleanup agreement. They were a first responder with regards to public awareness and protection from the Dan River coal ash spill in 2014. YRK engages the community in public education workshops and cleanups. They also bring litigation against polluters when necessary.