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RACINE COUNTY — With concerns about the potential environmental impact of the Foxconn Technology Group project taking center stage this week, the company is taking steps to assure the public that it takes its responsibilities seriously.

On Wednesday, Foxconn issued a statement on its stance on the environment, the same day as a public hearing run by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, which was attended by more than 200 people — dozens of whom voiced their concerns about the project's environmental impact.

“Foxconn is fully committed to complying with all appropriate rules and regulations that apply to our operations and to being a responsible corporate citizen,” according to the Foxconn statement. “Environmental sustainability is a priority and that includes compliance with the Great Lakes Compact and Wisconsin’s laws, rules and permitting procedures relating to water quality and wastewater treatment.”

The state DNR is considering an application filed by the Racine Water Utility on behalf of the Village of Mount Pleasant, requesting up to seven million gallons of water per day be diverted from Lake Michigan. DNR officials at Wednesday's hearing at the SC Johnson IMET Center in Sturtevant stated that although the application is for 7 million gallons, Foxconn plans to use 5.8 million, with the excess water to be used for other companies that may come to the area.

Although there were a few supporters among Wednesday's crowd, many contend the diversion would violate the Great Lakes Compact, an agreement made between all the Great Lakes states and provinces on how to protect and manage water from the lakes.

Transparency important

In regards to the public hearing, according to the Foxconn statement, the company believes that “providing citizens with facts about the application is important.”

“The approval of the application will be a key part of the infrastructure development that will benefit the job-creating growth that will be associated with our investment and investments by many other companies that will also be attracted by the development of Wisconsin as a technology manufacturing hub,” according to the Foxconn statement.

In regards to the environment, the company said it plans to invest in “environmental facilities and capabilities in processing waste, wastewater and emissions at our campus.”

“This includes reducing water consumption and optimizing water usage, and actively promoting the reuse of wastewater and use of reclaimed water throughout the manufacturing process,” according to the Foxconn statement. “Foxconn is committed to working closely with the relevant federal, state and local agencies, Wisconsin academic institutions, our own global experts, and others to ensure that we establish policies and practices that comply fully with all the appropriate environmental regulations.”

The DNR said it hadn’t decided whether to approve the proposal submitted in January by Racine’s water utility.

“The DNR has not taken a position, nor will it, on any compact compliance issue, until it thoroughly reviews the application and any comments we receive,” said Eric Ebersberger, who is overseeing Foxconn regulatory matters for the department.

“The department feels that the public comment period allows adequate time for anyone to carefully consider the application and comment, and the department’s review period is adequate to allow it to carefully consider the application and comments and judge whether the application meets the required compact criteria,” Ebersberger said.

Upcoming public meeting

On March 15, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation plans to host a public meeting regarding road construction related to the Interstate 94 North-South project. 

It is scheduled to be at Village Hall in Mount Pleasant, 8811 Campus Drive, and will last from 4 to 6 p.m. in a open house format.

This construction is related to the Foxconn project and plans to widen I-94 to handle the increased traffic related to jobs in the area. 

The Taiwanese electronics company wants to build a massive flat-screen facility at the southwest corner of Mount Pleasant, east of I-94 and north of Highway KR. The $10 billion manufacturing center could employ up to 13,000 workers.

The Associated press and Wisconsin State Journal contributed to this report.



Ricardo Torres covers federal, state and Racine County politics along with the Village of Mount Pleasant. He bleeds Wisconsin sports teams.

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