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EPA to Probe Whether NC Environment Agency Failed Minorities

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will investigate whether lenient regulation by North Carolina's environmental agency of industrial hog operations harmed minority neighbors.

The Waterkeeper Alliance and other groups released a letter Wednesday stating the EPA will launch a civil rights investigation of North Carolina's Department of Environment and Natural Resources. DENR spokesman Drew Elliot says the state agency will provide any information EPA needs to investigate the complaint.

Activist groups asked the EPA last fall to investigate whether DENR would have been tougher on 2,000 North Carolina swine operations raising 10 million hogs if the neighbors were not black, Hispanic or Native American.

Neighbors of industrial-scale hog farms have complained for decades that collecting manure in cesspools before spraying them onto farm fields generates unbearable smells and harms health.

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