RALEIGH, N.C. — A trial judge has dismissed a lawsuit alleging it was unconstitutional for funds that North Carolina government receives annually from pork producers through an agreement to get distributed as environmental grants.

The head of the conservative-leaning Civitas Institute and the New Hanover County school board sued over the details of the 2000 settlement then-Attorney General Mike Easley’s office negotiated with Smithfield Foods and subsidiaries.

The lawsuit contended the annual payments of up to $2 million had to be earmarked for public schools, like civil penalties and forfeitures. Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway disagreed, pointing to several affidavits presented by now-Attorney General Josh Stein’s office saying the deal wasn’t related to pending or future environmental enforcement actions against Smithfield.

This month’s ruling was first reported by NC Policy Watch.