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Environmentalists, Landowners Question Foxconn Electricity Plan, Air Pollution Permits

Public Hearing On Foxconn Air Pollution Permit Set For Tuesday, April 3

Land for Foxconn plant in Mount Pleasant
Land in the Village of Mount Pleasant where the Foxconn plant will be located. Chuck Quirmbach/WPR

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has made a preliminary ruling that air pollution permits for the Foxconn factory in Racine County should be approved, but an environmental group is raising concerns about at least one harmful compound.

The DNR said Friday that Foxconn’s application appears to meet state and federal air pollution laws, and environmental group Clean Wisconsin says it’s still reviewing that DNR notice.

Clean Wisconsin spokesman Jon Drewsen says he’s concerned much of southeastern Wisconsin doesn’t meet proposed tougher federal limits for harmful ozone and the Foxconn plant could make things worse.

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“When new emission sources come into an existing non-attainment areas, they are supposed to minimize emission levels along with offsetting what they can’t with the goal of actually improving local air quality,” Drewsen said.

The DNR is arguing the part of inland Racine County where Foxconn would be located is in compliance with the new ozone standard. But the agency says that finding has nothing to do with the Foxconn project.

A public hearing on the Foxconn air pollution permit has been set for Tuesday, April 3 in Sturtevant.

Meanwhile, more concerns have been raised about the transmission line and substation proposed for the Foxconn factory.

American Transmission Company, or ATC, wants to construct an electrical substation and a 1.2-mile transmission line for the Foxconn site. ATC estimates Foxconn will use six times more electricity than the next largest factory in Wisconsin.

But a farm in the path of the transmission line has asked that a draft environmental impact statement by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, or PSC, look at the potential effect on the farm.

A filing with the PSC states the landowner has made significant investments to help the growing of fresh produce, in particular.

Others have recently written to state regulators questioning whether utility customers should have to help pay for the Foxconn electricity project.

In a statement, ATC stated:

“It is common for landowners, municipalities, counties and stakeholder groups to file for intervenor status with projects of this size and scope. Intervenor status allows groups and individuals to be a full party to the proceedings and aids the PSC in its decision-making on the project.”

The PSC is planning technical and public hearings on the Foxconn electricity plan in a couple of months.