SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — After the Illinois Attorney General and the Walker Administration traded threats of possible legal action regarding the Foxconn Technology Group project, it looks as if the Illinois State Senate might now get involved.
On Thursday, the Environmental and Conversion Committee for the Illinois State Senate passed a resolution urging “Illinois agencies to take whatever actions possible to protect against the loss of water resources, the potential flooding, and other ecological impacts from this development.”
The resolution cites Foxconn’s plans to draw 7 million gallons of water per day out of Lake Michigan as having a possible negative impact on Illinois residents and it states “there are questions being raised about whether the diversion request meets the definition and intent of the Great Lakes Compact requirement that water be used for a ‘Group of largely residential customers.’”
The Illinois resolution is sponsored by state senators Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, and Julie Morrison, D-Deerfield, two legislators from Lake County, which borders Kenosha County. It has been sent to the Secretary of the Senate to be scheduled to be discussed on the floor.
In April, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources approved the City of Racine’s water diversion application, which was made in large part to support Foxconn. In the past, DNR officials have stated of the 7 million gallons of water that will be diverted, Foxconn plans to use 5.8 million gallons and of that is expected to treat and return 4.3 million gallons to the Racine Wastewater Treatment Plant to be returned to the lake.
The excess water drawn from the lake is expected to be used for other companies that may come to the area.
In a statement, Bush said allowing Foxconn to “skirt environmental protections is irresponsible and short-sighted.”
“The environmental impacts don’t stop at the Wisconsin border,” Bush said. “Lake County residents will be affected, but because Foxconn is exempt from environmental regulations, we don’t know the full impact.”
In a statement Morrison said she urges the state to “reconsider this short-sighted proposal.”
“We cannot jeopardize the health of our population in favor of one manufacturer and in doing so roll back decades of hard-fought environmental protections,” Morrison said.
On May 4, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said her office plans to file a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency saying the project should be designated “non-attainment,” which would cause Foxconn to install more stringent pollution control equipment.
In a response, the Walker administration stated it believes Wisconsin should be in attainment.
Amy Hasenberg, press secretary for Walker, said the state has “cut emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds by 50 percent since 2002.”
“Pollutants are largely coming from Chicago, Illinois, and Gary, Indiana,” Hasenberg said. “Our state should not be penalized for issues we are not causing. We will take all necessary steps to protect our state’s interests. The State of Wisconsin will push back.”
“We urge Illinois agencies to take whatever actions possible to protect against the loss of water resources, the potential flooding, and other ecological impacts from this development.” Illinois State Senate Resolution 1600 regarding Foxconn