Foxconn takes Wisconsin by Storm
Foxconn Technology Group, a Taiwanese manufacturer of LED-screens, is coming to Wisconsin, with jobs, economic development and lots of questions.
Foxconn is building its major manufacturing facility near Racine, in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin. The company’s North American headquarters will be in Milwaukee and a research facility will be built in Eau Claire. The state of Wisconsin, under the leadership of Governor Scott Walker, has given significant incentives to land this development. Unfortunately, many of these incentives have been reduction of environmental permitting requirements, which is another story; click here for an interview with Dr. Peter Adriaens from the University of Michigan.
The facility in Mount Pleasant will need lots of water. For this, the City of Racine has requested permission from Wisconsin DNR to take 7 million gallons a day from Lake Michigan. Since Mount Pleasant is a ‘straddling community’ – part in the Lake Michigan watershed and part in the Upper Mississippi watershed – their request must conform to the standards set out in the Great Lakes Compact – see more information here. WI DNR decided that the standards were met and granted the withdrawal. An appeal to this permit was filed and an additional process of public comment and review gone through. On April 25, 2018, the WI DNR again approved the withdrawal.
Is this a bad thing? Inter-basin transfer of water (taking water from one major water basin, in this case the Lake Michigan basin, and sending it to another, in this case the Upper Mississippi) is troubling. Water shortages abound across the world, and many look longingly at the vast freshwater resources of the Great Lakes. The purpose of the Compact is to ensure that the water in the Great Lakes is not mined and that Great Lakes ecosystems are protected. Learn more about the Great Lakes Compact here.
WI DNR’s approval of the City of Racine’s application violates the Compact requirement that any water diverted out of the Basin must be used solely for “Public Water Supply Purposes.” The purpose of the City of Racine’s diversion, as identified in the City’s application, is exclusively to supply water to industrial and commercial customers in a newly-designated “electronics and information technology manufacturing zone” in the Village of Mt. Pleasant. The in the out-of-basin portion of Mt. Pleasant subject to the diversion request.
LWV has a position (here) that inter-basin transfer should not be allowed unless:
LWV Wisconsin has lead efforts to oppose the withdrawal. LWV Lake Michigan is party to the Petition seeking reconsideration by WI DNR. LWV Upper Mississippi has made a resolution in opposition, and will continue to find ways to work against this transfer. You can read the resolution here.
According to the Great Lakes Compact, the 8 states and 2 provinces that border the Great Lakes have a right to question decisions. LWV UMRR so far has undertaken these actions:
Addition: Minnesota Public Radio looked at who comes out ahead in the Foxconn deal on July 31 - you can read more about it and listen to the conversation here. - LWV UMRR Blogger, Gretchen Sabel
7/26/2018 08:55:56 am
Do not all surrounding states and Canada have a say in this? Has the Sierra Club filed suit? Has the City of Chicago entered in on the Wisconsin decision? Surely this will affect all of us. Fresh water is the gold of our day and should be treated as such.
7/27/2018 04:15:18 pm
What can I do to stop Foxconn?
7/30/2018 09:31:50 pm
At this point stopping Foxconn is improbable, however slowing them down and holding them accountable is our only hope-environmentally. Foxconn can happen anywhere and there are already other businesses stealthing in like frac-sand mining, etc. Get active/involved and attend meetings, read the newspapers/watch news and attend county/city meetings. All this is happening under our noses
7/31/2018 09:18:31 pm
If you would like to get involved and send the resolution to the Sierra Club, asking them to join in the opposition, this would be a place to start. Also to the City of Chicago. The more people we have involved in promoting this opposition the better. The governors of the eight states are now considering having a meeting to discuss this, but currently not enough governors are in agreement to meet, so writing to your Governor can also be effective..
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