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DNR Secretary: Staff Ready To Handle Foxconn Permit Reviews

Stepp Contends Environment Would Be Protected Under Streamlined Approach

Chuck Quirmbach/WPR

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp says her agency will be able to handle environmental reviews for the proposed Foxconn factory in southeastern Wisconsin.

Stepp said at the Natural Resources Board meeting Wednesday in Milwaukee that she wanted to dispel rumors that the DNR doesn’t have the staff to take on the potentially numerous permit reviews for the Taiwanese company’s project.

“Our team is ready, willing and we’re able to do the work,” she declared.

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Stepp said retired DNR staffer Eric Ebersberger has been brought back to manage the permitting process. Ebersberger previously led DNR efforts to review, and later help, Waukesha’s plan to obtain drinking water from the Great Lakes.

Stepp is also defending Walker administration goals to streamline the state review of Foxconn permits.

“We can shrink the process — time and work — all these different permits that might be required on parallel tracks. So, it’s really about moving at the speed of business, without sacrificing environmental protection. We absolutely think we can do it,” Stepp told reporters.

Stepp said under Gov. Scott Walker’s plan, Wisconsin would not do an environmental impact statement for the Foxconn project. But, she said federal agencies would oversee protection of wetlands. Environmental groups are asking the state to proceed cautiously on any permit reviews, and to do them right.