Machelle Sanders, Secretary, North Carolina Department of Administration
PHOTO: Ethan Hyman, Carolina Coast Online
Andrea Harris Task Force Releases First Status Report
December 4, 2020
On June 4, 2020 by Executive Order 143, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper created the Andrea Harris Social, Economic, Environmental, and Health Equity Task Force (AHTF) chaired by Machelle Sanders, Secretary, NC Department of Administration to address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color. Its two-year mission is to create economic stability, eliminate health disparities, and achieve environmental justice in North Carolina by convening testimony, identifying best practices, and reporting this information to the Office of the Governor.
EO 143 directed the Task Force to submit a status report by December 1, 2020 and every six months after. The Task Force made available the first of these bi-annual reports on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Five subcommittees of the Task Force have established short and long-term goals with action plans to achieve them adhering to four guiding principles:
- Put people first recognizing underserved communities with less access to resources and opportunity
- Ensure sustainability of efforts to provide equal and stable access to economic opportunities and healthcare once we are past COVID-19
- Make efforts adaptable to change and scalable to needs by structuring policies to adjust to new information and challenges and manage increased needs over time
- Ensure transparency and accountability to ensure human and economic capital are best utilized to achieve relevant goals
The five subcommittees are:
- Access to Healthcare
- Economic Opportunity and Business Development
- Educational Opportunity
- Environmental Justice and Inclusion
- Patient Engagement
The Environmental Justice and Inclusion subcommittee, chaired by Michael Regan, Secretary, NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), is tasked to address specific needs emphasizing low income minority communities for increased public participation in state decisions, quantified health and welfare benefits of pollution reduction, increased clean energy resource deployment, prioritized reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, increase community resilience to climate change impacts, sustainable economic and infrastructure recovery efforts for vulnerable communities, and enhanced education for environmental justice, inclusion and equity.
Two short term goals offered by the Environmental Justice and Inclusion subcommittee are to:
- Evaluate the feasibility and/or designate a permanent full-time position on Environmental Justice, Equity and Inclusion in the Department of Commerce, Department of Transportation, Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, and at the Office of Emergency Management.
- Conduct an inventory of aging infrastructure and buildings (schools, senior centers, hospitals, etc.) that have exposure to radon, asbestos, mildew, mold, etc. and consider remediation projects of impacted facilities for job creation initiatives.
A long-term goal identified in the report is a legislative strategy for additions/changes to statutes and rules to incorporate environmental justice criteria into regulatory actions.
The second of these bi-annual reports due in the summer of 2021 will include actions taken by the Task Force in response to feedback received on the December 2020 report from the Office of the Governor.