Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan plans to file a lawsuit challenging a recently issued rule by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that will allow Foxconn to avoid installing stringent emission controls in Racine County.
Madigan plans to file her lawsuit challenging the final rule in the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit within 60 days of the final rule being published in the Federal Register.
The rule, April 30, designates Racine County, future home of Foxconn’s $10 billion plant, as in “attainment,” meaning it does not need to meet stricter standards for controlling smog and air pollution despite indisputable pollution monitoring data showing Wisconsin's Racine County exceeds ozone levels beyond the 70 parts per billion (ppb) limit.
Racine County recorded average ozone levels of 74 ppb from 2015 through 2017. A non-attainment designation would require the plant to install the most stringent pollution control equipment, according to a news release from Madigan's office.
“Despite its name, the Environmental Protection Agency now operates with total disregard for the quality of our air and water, and in this case, the U.S. EPA is putting a company’s profit ahead of our natural resources and the public’s health,” Madigan stated in the release. “I will file a lawsuit to protect the environment and people from the consequences of this unsupported decision.”
The lawsuit will be the second action Madigan has taken to abate the negative impacts that the proposed Foxconn site will have on the environment and people’s health, according to her office.
In March, Madigan submitted comments to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources expressing concern about Foxconn’s water use and how wastewater from the manufacturing plant will be treated.
After Madigan's announcement, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin issued a statement from chair Martha Laning: “Gov. Scott Walker has failed to act in Wisconsinites’ best interests. … I’m thankful that the Illinois AG is doing her job by taking a stand to protect air quality on behalf of the citizens of both Wisconsin and Illinois.”
The state party said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt acted against the guidance of the agency’s career staff to exempt Foxconn from federal limitations on smog pollution despite evidence that smog levels in southeastern Wisconsin were already above federal standards. Even higher smog levels could present greater issues for individuals with asthma and those who work or exercise outdoors.
“In order to have healthy communities and families, we need a healthy environment,” Laning said. “The costs Scott Walker has forced Wisconsinites to incur in order to bring Foxconn here are astronomical. His priorities are clearly not with the future of Wisconsin, but with the future of his political career.”
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