Midwest Environmental Advocates is a nonprofit environmental law center that works for healthy water, air, land and government for this generation and the next. We believe that every citizen has the potential to make a difference.

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Foxconn - Environmental Law Exemptions

— An international electronics manufacturer plans to build a factory in Mount Pleasant, WI after state legislators exempted the company from state environmental protection laws.

Latest News

The Foxconn deal is covered frequently in the media, with latest news ever-evolving. This page is up to date as of March 8th, 2018.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources held a public meeting on Wednesday, March 7th, addressing Racine’s application to divert 7 million gallons of water per day.  Citizens voiced their concerns about the water being used for private benefit, and what pollutants might remain in the roughly 4 million gallons that Foxconn will return to Lake Michigan.  The meeting was also covered by the Racine Journal Times, Wisconsin State Journal, and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

A Marquette University Law School poll released on March 5th, 2018, indicates that Wisconsin voters are skeptical of Foxconn's $3 billion state incentives package. The poll was covered by multiple news outlets including: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee BizTimes, Wisconsin Public Radio, and U.S. News.

Issue Summary

The DNR is reviewing Foxconn's air permit application for its liquid crystal display plant, assembly plant, and fabrication plant. This is the first active permit application at the state level. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that combined, the three air pollution permits would define Foxconn’s facilities as a major source of emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, therefore requiring stronger pollution control technology. The DNR may have work completed on a permit for the flat-panel display plant in April for citizens to review, comment and participate in a hearing.

At the federal level, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Foxconn does not need a federal permit to minimize potential wetland destruction in building their $10 billion plant. Midwest Environmental Advocates answered journalists’ questions on this decision, pointing out that the public has lost an opportunity for input. However, citizens should continue to take advantage of other opportunities to voice their concerns about environmental impacts and exemptions in this project. You can find more about the Army Corps jurisdictional determination on their website as well as more specific information related to Foxconn sites Area A and Area C.

Backed by a massive incentive package from the State of Wisconsin, Foxconn plans to manufacture liquid crystal display panels for products such as flat-screen televisions in Racine County, Wisconsin. Estimates of the incentive package and cost to the public for attracting Foxconn to Wisconsin have reached up to $4.5 Billion. Manufacturing of LCD panels may cause pollution from chemicals such as zinc, cadmium, chromium, copper and benzene. The proposed site, with anticipated expansions, is nearly 3,000 acres in size, and is located in the Village of Mount Pleasant.

The site includes a waterway, the Kilbourn Road Ditch, which runs into the Des Plaines River in the Mississippi River Basin. However, due the large size of the site, it straddles both the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River Basin. This site is therefore in a straddling community and could invoke oversight in the context of the Great Lakes Compact. Several aspects of the GLC, including a Compact requirement that Great Lakes water diversions be used for public water supply purposes, could impact the Foxconn proposal. 

Many factors, such as the size of Foxconn’s proposed complex, the State’s economic incentive package, and the potential local impacts of the proposal have generated widespread public interest in Foxconn. MEA will track and focus on the water quality impacts of Foxconn’s anticipated location in Wisconsin, analyzing issues such as whether the project and requisite permits comply with federal law and with the state Public Trust Doctrine. That doctrine, which is enshrined in our State’s Constitution, means that certain water resources of our State are protected for all and as such warrant protection, both of water quality and quantity.

Foxconn missed a deadline of December 15, 2017 to deposit $60 million into a special account to be used by Mount Pleasant and Racine County to begin buying about 710 acres of property for future expansion and construction staging. A week later, the money was deposited by Foxconn, which Mount Pleasant will use to exercise options on 1,400 acres of land.

The DNR has a business resource page dedicated to Foxconn with more information.