Sunday, November 4, 2018

Foxconn, Walker's baby, facing obstacles ignored at their peril

Former Milwaukee Mayor John O. Norquist used to say that big highway proposals had two stages. 

Stage one was, 'it's too soon to know' about which alternatives and options might be selected.

Stage two was - -  once the biggest and most expensive option had been selected regardless of public opinion - - 'it's too late to do anything about it.'

In other words, enjoy your years of orange barrels, dirty air, spending and borrowing, road congestion - - then fresh years of induced congestion, spending and borrowing for repairs, then widening, and so on.

But when it comes to the multi-billion-dollar Foxconn project - - an extensive archive of posts about Foxconn is here - - where everything has been fast-tracked straight to stage two, there are several major hurdles ahead that highlight what Walker, Wisconsin and the company are ignoring for political reasons.

And taking for granted, by betting on the come. 

I would remind people that while the DNR greenlit the Great Lakes diversion application to service the project after but a single hearing and mere weeks of review - - with an outcome that was never in doubt, given Walker's control of the agency and its 'chamber of control mentality' direction - - a formal complaint within the diversion process has been filed by Midwest Environmental Advocates and several more legal, ]public resource and civic organizations in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Washington DC.

Here is more information, and a list of the petitioners.
Milwaukee Riverkeeper 
League of Women Voters of Wisconsin
River Alliance of Wisconsin
Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy
League of Women Voters - Lake Michigan Region
       Natural Resources Defense Council 

I wrote about the filing in August.

A complaint could lead to a lawsuit. I don't know if that will happen, but the bulldozers are busy on the site excavating farmland and knocking down homes as if the company and the politicians and public officials involved didn't have a thing to worry about.

What I do know is that fundamental questions about the wisdom and propriety of the diversion have been raised and the answers are not yet in.

I would also remind people that there are now two federal lawsuits filed by Illinois officials and environmental groups over the air pollution rules from which Foxconn and Southeast Wisconsin have been awarded.
The legal challenges — one filed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and another by two Chicago-based environmental groups — cite the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s own records and data in seeking to overturn the exemptions.
Also, four Illinois communities downstream from Racine County have expressed reservations about the project. Again, litigation could follow. We don't know if that will happen.

Here is one blog post with 15 items which relate to the air and water permits Wisconsin has granted Foxconn.

My point is that while the company has issued a series of assurances about real issues like diverted water usage, wastewater treatment and airborne emissions, I'd noted that heavy flooding 

off the site into the Pike River when heavy rains were in the forecast undercut Foxconn's pronouncements and the quality of the DNR's oversight.

Indifference is hardly a strategy when it comes to public land, air, water and billions, is it, though it could lead to a big project Stage 1-A, especially with major media shining a spotlight on Foxconn and other environmental-deficient actions by Walker, summarized here:

Hold on - - there are questions that need answers.


Man MKE said...

I think a strong legal case can be made on the part of environmental groups. However, some courts not only accept bet-on-the-come arguments, they dismiss sometimes dismiss cases because of mootness. In Foxconn's case, the merits of the lawsuit might be deemed by a pliable judge as moot because the land already has been excavated and many millions spent in early construction. Phase 2, in other words. Whereas, if you're a homeowner and you build an addition that in some way exceeds the residential code in your community, you are at great risk of having to tear all or part of it down.

Chris said...

And sometimes the prudent thing is to cut your losses. Hopefully the courts will see it that way.