Wisconsin

Report: Over 350 Companies Power Wisconsin Clean Energy Supply Chain

Contact: Paul Dailing, PDailing@elpc.org, (312)771-1979

Report: Over 350 Companies Power the Clean Energy Supply Chain. For Economic Growth, Wisconsin Needs Better Clean Energy Policies

Strong manufacturing base is finding work out-of-state, not at home

On Wednesday, Jan. 8, the Environmental Law & Policy Center released “Wisconsin Clean Energy Business Supply Chain: Good for Manufacturing Jobs, Good for Economic Growth and Good for Our Environment,” a directory of 354 Wisconsin companies in the clean energy supply chain and a policy road map for the state’s clean energy future.

Although clean energy supply chain businesses exist in every Wisconsin Congressional and State Senate District and in 93 of the 99 State Assembly Districts, one of the report’s findings was that those Wisconsin companies often find work on jobs in states with more progressive clean energy policies like Michigan and Minnesota.

“It’s time for Wisconsin to catch up to its neighbors and for the lawmakers in Madison to catch up to the small business owners popping up across the state,” said ELPC Executive Director Howard A. Learner. “Through smart policies that encourage homegrown solar and wind power, Wisconsin can become more energy independent and economically resilient.”

The businesses listed in the report include installers and component manufacturers, but also engineering and design firms, installers, repair services, construction firms and insurers, showing how clean energy spurs job growth throughout the economy.

“Imagine what we could do with strong policies to support Wisconsin’s only home-grown energy – renewable energy,” said report author and ELPC Wisconsin Senior Policy Advocate Andy Olsen. “Wisconsin can improve our environment while growing a clean energy economy. This is not a niche, separate thing for environmentalists and ecologists. It’s construction jobs and design jobs and polysilicon and repair work.”

Solar installer and Arch Electric Inc. President Ed Zinthefer, a master electrician with more than three decades of experience, said he has seen the Midwest’s renewable industry mature since he founded Arch in 2003. With 43 employees at their offices in Plymouth and Milwaukee, Arch Electric has built more than 800 custom solar projects, including commercial rooftop systems like the IKEA in Oak Creek, and residential and agricultural rooftop systems.

“In my first decade of business, Arch installed 1.6 megawatts of solar power,” Zinthefer said. “In 2017 alone, Arch installed 1.6 megawatts of solar. In 2018, Arch had installed 1.6 megawatts of solar by March 31. We have 25 megawatts of solar estimated for installation in 2020 with a continued growth trajectory expected for years to come.”

The report is available for download at elpc.org/wisconsinsupplychain.

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New Poll Shows SW Wisconsin Voters Prioritize Safe Clean Drinking Water as Top Issue of Concern & Favor Specific Regulations to Improve Water Quality

Contact: Judith Nemes, jnemes@elpc.org, (312)795-3706

New Poll Shows SW Wisconsin Voters Prioritize Safe Clean Drinking Water as Top Issue of Concern & Favor Specific Regulations to Improve Water Quality

 Majority said they’d favor candidate supporting more regulation to protect safe clean drinking water

CHICAGO – Nationally-recognized pollster J. Ann Selzer‘s new poll of 601 registered voters in southwest Wisconsin for the Environmental Law & Policy Center Action Fund (ELPC Action Fund) found 89% of respondents said safe clean drinking water is the most important issue – ahead of infrastructure, health care, funding for public education and agricultural practices. While Southwest Wisconsin voters are initially divided on whether more regulation to protect drinking water supplies is needed, when presented facts and arguments about specific proposals that would address water quality, a majority support policy actions, including a freeze on new or expanded construction of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Additionally, a majority said they would favor a candidate supporting more regulation on drinking water over a candidate supporting the status quo when it comes time to vote.

“Candidates should recognize that strong policies to protect safe, clean drinking water are winners with the voters in Wisconsin. The poll results show that southwest Wisconsin residents are concerned about safe clean drinking water and would be more likely to vote for a candidate supporting stronger regulations that protect the water supply from pollutants,” said Howard Learner, ELPC Action Fund’s executive director. “The recent well water testing shows that our drinking water needs better protections. Voters in southwest Wisconsin care about this issue and will support candidates who support policy actions and solutions.”

Key findings from the report include:

  • Nearly nine in ten (89%) voters in largely rural counties in southwest Wisconsin say drinking water quality is very (82%) or fairly (7%) important to them.
  • An underlying reason for the importance of safe clean water may stem from voters’ responses that good quality of life for them is connected to multiple elements including outdoor recreation (87%), scenic landscapes and quiet places.
  • Three specific legislative proposals were favored by the majority. They include a requirement for best management practices to reduce fertilizer and manure runoff from crop farms and CAFOs (72% support), allowing counties to impose stricter local standards to protect drinking water compared to state law (75% support), and requiring greater disclosure and regulation of how CAFOs spread manure on fields where it can run off or seep into nearby waterways (72% support).
  • There is high awareness among voters in southwest Wisconsin about the contamination causes of drinking water, including over-application of commercial fertilizer on fields that seeps into the groundwater (85% awareness), CAFOs spreading more manure on fields than can be naturally absorbed (74% awareness), and the fractured bedrock and sandy soil allows contaminants to get into the groundwater (67% awareness).
  • A pro-regulation candidate is preferred over one favoring the status quo. 52% say they would be inclined support a candidate who supports more regulation to a candidate who does not. Two in three see water quality as a major or minor issue for the next general election.

The poll was conducted in November 2019 in five southwest Wisconsin counties: Crawford, Grant, Iowa, Lafayette and Richmond.

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Wisconsin PSC Will Approve Unnecessary High-Voltage Transmission Line that Will Permanently Damage the Driftless Area

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:

David Clutter, Dave@driftlessconservancy.org, 609-692-2153

Chuck Tenneson, Charles@driftlessconservancy.org, 608-930-3252

George Meyer, georgemeyer@tds.net, (608) 516-5545

Wisconsin PSC Says Will Approve Huge Unnecessary High-Voltage Transmission Line that Will Permanently Damage the Driftless Area

There Are Better Clean Energy Solutions and Alternatives for Wisconsin

Dodgeville, WI – Today, the Wisconsin Public Service Commissioners met and voted to approve moving forward to issue a written decision approving the proposed costly Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line that would cut a wide swath through Wisconsin’s scenic Driftless Area natural resources and communities.

David Clutter, Executive Director of the Driftless Area Land Conservancy, said: 

“The Driftless Area Land Conservancy is very disappointed in today’s decision by the PSC Commissioners to approve this unneeded 120-mile transmission line with 17-story towers that would create irreparable and permanent damage to the scenic Driftless Area. The Commission’s own staff testified that this transmission line is not the most economical option in most modeling scenarios. It’s not needed for energy demand nor reliability to keep the lights on. We expect that this decision will be challenged before federal and other state agencies, and in the courts if necessary.

Dane County, Iowa County, and many municipalities and school districts throughout Southwest Wisconsin opposed this unneeded transmission line. Furthermore, all of the state legislators of both parties and two members of Wisconsin’s Congressional delegation expressed serious concerns regarding the construction and maintenance of this transmission line.

Numerous Wisconsin environmental, agricultural, grassroots citizen and consumer protection groups opposed this transmission line. Thousands of Wisconsin residents submitted written comments and testified at public hearings in opposition to this destructive proposed project.

The direction the Commissioners’ seem to be taking is contrary to Wisconsin state law. Their decision is not supported by expert witness testimony, the PSC’s own staff testimony or thousands of members of the public.

Wisconsin needs to transition to renewable energy and we can do so without damaging the natural areas and special places of our Driftless Area. There are better clean energy solutions and alternatives for Wisconsin. The PSC’s decision will result in higher utility rates in Wisconsin and across the Midwest, and will allow ATC and ITC to condemn private land through eminent domain.

The Driftless Area Land Conservancy hopes that the Commissioners will reconsider their apparent decision before entering a final order in this case. Upon reviewing the final order, the decision will be appealed if the Commission’s decision stands.

 

George Meyer, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, said: 

“The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation is extremely disappointed with the Public Service Commissioners’ decision to issue a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the Cardinal-Hickory Creek high-voltage transmission line.

The Driftless Area is a truly unique landscape and home to a large number of valuable and heavily used Federal, State and local recreational areas. There has been a substantial amount of public and private investment in the natural resources and the recreational facilities of the Driftless Area including hundreds of small businesses that derive their income based on the resulting tourism economy.

The construction and maintenance of the proposed line and very high towers will have significant and undue adverse impacts on environmental values, including land and water resources. The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation will continue to challenge this destructive transmission line before federal and other state agencies, and in the courts if necessary.”

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ELPC Commends Congress’ Bipartisan Support to Reauthorize and Increase Funding for Successful Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Judith Nemes
(312) 795-3706
JNemes@elpc.org
 

ELPC Commends Congress’ Bipartisan Support to Reauthorize and Increase Funding for Successful Great Lakes Restoration Initiative over Next Five Years

“Protecting safe clean drinking water, healthy fisheries and enjoyable outdoor recreation for all is not a partisan issue”

 STATEMENT BY HOWARD A. LEARNER

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ENVIRONMENTAL LAW & POLICY CENTER

“The Environmental Law & Policy Center commends bipartisan Congress leaders for taking a big step forward to reauthorize and increase funding for the successful Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). The Great Lakes is where we live, work and play. Protecting safe clean drinking water, healthy fisheries and enjoyable outdoor recreation for all is not a partisan issue.”

“The Great Lakes provide drinking water to 42 million people. Reauthorizing GLRI for the next five years with increased funding is necessary to combat harmful algae blooms in western Lake Erie, Green Bay and Lake Superior, and threats of invasive species throughout the Great Lakes. More intense rain storms driven by climate change create significantly more stress on Great Lakes infrastructure and the ecosystem. The best defense is a good offense.

“The next five-year GLRI funding cycle, beginning in 2022, should ramp up to $475 million annually during that time from the current $300 million annual allocation. The funding increase would bring the program back to the original FY 2010 level of $475 million.

“Trump’s War on the Great Lakes must be kept in check since his administration attempted to either eliminate or cut funds for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative over the last three years. The administration fails to address toxic algae blooms by not requiring enforceable regulatory standards to reduce agricultural runoff of phosphorus pollution from manure and fertilizers that impairs safe clean drinking water for millions of people.

“Great Lakes protection and restoration has strong bipartisan support. Protecting clean water for fisheries and outdoor recreation and ensuring safe drinking water for all is not a partisan issue in the pivotal Midwest states where the 2020 election may be decided. Great Lakes protection is a core value shared by all.

“Since GLRI was launched in 2010, it has provided essential funding to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world. GLRI projects also protect safe clean drinking water for 42 million people and support a $62 billion economy based on fishing, boating and recreational activities.”

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Wisconsin PSC/DNR Draft Environmental Impact Statement Echoes Concerns of Unneeded Transmission Line Harming Driftless Area

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:
Dave Clutter, Driftless Area Land Conservancy, (608) 692-2153, Dave@driftlessconservancy.org
George Meyer, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, (608) 516-5545, georgemeyer@tds.net
Judith Nemes, Environmental Law & Policy Center, (312) 795-3706, JNemes@elpc.org

Wisconsin PSC/DNR Draft Environmental Impact Statement Echoes Conservation Groups & Natural Resource Experts’ Concerns of Unneeded Huge Transmission Line Harming Scenic Driftless Area

State report identifies harmful impacts, need for huge transmission line questioned

Dodgeville, WI – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ and Public Service Commission’s just-released draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) confirms many of the same vital natural resources concerns over American Transmission Company’s (ATC) proposed huge Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line and 17-story high towers already voiced by local conservation groups and leading natural resources experts. The proposed transmission line would cut a wide swath through the Driftless Area’s scenic landscapes, conservation lands, parklands, key waterways, and other natural resource treasures. This is the wrong place for a huge transmission line, which, in any case, is not needed for electricity reliability.

According to Driftless Area Land Conservancy Executive Director David Clutter: “The Driftless Area is a nationally significant landscape that should be protected. We appreciated that Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources’ draft EIS recognized many of the same potential harms we and others identified that a massive transmission line and its 17-story high towers would inflict upon this unique treasure in the Midwest.”

A top-rate team of Wisconsin’s leading natural resources experts presented their concerns in written comments filed in January with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Their comments were submitted on behalf of the Driftless Area Land Conservancy and the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation by the Environmental Law & Policy Center, which is serving as their public legal counsel.

George Meyer, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and former Director of Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources, said: “The Driftless Area and specifically the locations that would be harmed by the Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line provide critical habitat for fish and wildlife. State, federal and local governments have invested many millions of dollars in lands for fish and wildlife habitat, public access and recreational purposes including hunting, fishing, trapping, biking, hiking and birdwatching which generate scores of millions of dollars into the local and state economies. The value of these public lands will be significantly degraded by the construction of the proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line.”

Howard Learner, Executive Director at the Environmental Law & Policy Center and one of the attorneys for the Driftless Area Land Conservancy and the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation said:  “The Driftless Area is the wrong place for a huge transmission line, which is not needed for reliability in any case as electricity demand is flat and there is already surplus power. The proposed costly transmission line is yesterday’s misguided way to meet future energy needs for people and businesses in Wisconsin.  There are better, cleaner, and more flexible solar energy, storage, wind power and energy efficiency resources in southwest Wisconsin that would create jobs and economic growth here instead of subsidizing out-of-state energy including fossil fuel generation.”

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A+ Team of Wisconsin Natural Resources Experts Oppose Huge Transmission Line That Endangers Scenic Driftless Area Values

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

A+ Team of Wisconsin Natural Resources Experts Oppose Huge Transmission Line That Endangers Scenic Driftless Area Values

Threats to Unique Landscape, Recreational Tourism and Fragile Ecosystems

Dodgeville, WI – Four of Wisconsin’s leading natural resources experts filed strong written comments opposing American Transmission Company’s (ATC) proposed huge Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line and 17-story towers that will cut a wide swath through the Driftless Area’s scenic landscapes, conservation lands, parklands, key waterways and other natural resource treasures. This is the wrong place for a huge transmission line that is not needed for electricity reliability.

The experts’ written comments were filed individually by January 4th with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. They were also submitted on behalf of the Driftless Area Land Conservancy (DALC) and Wisconsin Wildlife Federation (WWF) by public interest attorneys at the Environmental Law & Policy Center, which is serving as legal counsel for DALC and WWF.

According to DALC Executive Director David Clutter: “The Driftless Area is a nationally significant landscape that should be protected. This massive transmission line and its 17-story tall towers are not needed for reliability, and the Driftless Area should not be sacrificed for ATC’s profits.  We are pleased to have a superb team of natural resources experts weigh in on the importance of protecting and conserving a unique treasure in the Midwest.”

The natural resources expert team includes:

George Meyer, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and former Director of Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources, stated:

“The Driftless Area and specifically the locations proposed to be traversed by the Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line provide critical habitat for fish and wildlife. State, federal and local governments have invested over $100 million dollars in lands for fish and wildlife habitat, public access and recreational purposes including hunting, fishing, trapping, biking, hiking and birdwatching which generate scores of millions of dollars into the local and state economies. The value of these public lands will be significantly degraded by the construction of the proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line.”

Don Waller, Professor of Botany and Environmental Studies and former Department Chair at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, stated:

“As a professional conservation biologist, I am concerned about the environmental impacts of this proposed transmission line as I know this project would have both immediate and sustained deleterious impacts on plant, bird, and other animal populations in the region.”

Stephen Born, Emeritus Professor of Planning and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, stated:

“One of the greatest losses associated with a major transmission line across this special region is the degradation of scenic and amenity resources. Because these highly-valued scenic resources are among the surest victims of a huge transmission line, those impacts should be thoroughly and carefully assessed in the review process for the transmission line.”

Curt Meine, Senior Fellow at the The Aldo Leopold Foundation and Adjunct Faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, stated:

“We must strive together for energy solutions that do not sacrifice other conservation goals and degrade the quality of our land (in the Driftless Area). The decision on this proposed powerline is a test.  It will show if we as a society are willing to resist the easy path of expediency and short-term profit.”

The proposed 345 kV high-voltage transmission line is on a route cutting a wide path from Dubuque, Iowa, through the Upper Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Refuge, across protected conservation lands, wetlands, family farms, school district property and many sensitive natural areas in the Driftless Area. The huge transmission line routes would run through the protected Military Ridge Prairie Heritage Area and Black Earth Watershed Conservation Area, and by Governor Dodge State Park and Blue Mounds State Park.

ATC is requesting a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Public Service Commission so that it can assert eminent domain in order to take private land for its expensive transmission line and high towers.

Howard Learner, Executive Director at the Environmental Law & Policy Center and one of the attorneys for DALC and the WWF said: “The Driftless Area is the wrong place for a huge transmission line, which is not needed for reliability in any case. The proposed costly transmission line is yesterday’s misguided way to meet future energy needs for people and businesses in Wisconsin.  There are better, cleaner, and more flexible solar energy, storage, wind power and energy efficiency resources in southwest Wisconsin that would create jobs and economic growth here instead of subsidizing out-of-state energy including fossil fuel generation.”

 

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New Environmental Study of Proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission Line Improperly Rejects Alternatives

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Chuck Tenneson, charles@driftlessconservancy.org, 608-930-3252

Sarah Eddy, seddy@elpc.org, 312-795-3710

DODGEVILLE, Wis., Dec. 10, 2018 – The draft environmental impact statement (EIS) released recently by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) for the proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line includes only a cursory review of non-transmission alternatives to the high-voltage line such as greater energy efficiency, local renewables, and energy storage, despite requirements in federal law that alternatives be considered thoroughly. The draft EIS admits that non-transmission alternatives, along with lower-voltage and underground alternatives, were “not carried forward for detailed analysis.”

The proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line in southwest Wisconsin would cut a swath through the state’s scenic and ecologically unique Driftless Area. The cost of the project would be borne by electric ratepayers in Wisconsin and other states and energy experts have concluded that the new transmission line is not needed due to flattened demand for electricity in Wisconsin and recent advances in energy technology.

The costs and environmental damage that would be created by the transmission line has sparked opposition and legal challenges from local grassroots citizens and conservation groups. Wisconsin’s Dane and Iowa Counties voted to oppose the transmission line and have intervened in the Public Service Commission proceedings to fight the project.

“We wouldn’t think of putting a power line across the Grand Canyon, so why would we think of putting one through one of the most beautiful and unique landscapes in the Upper Midwest?” Said Dave Clutter, executive director of the Driftless Area Land Conservancy. “We have a national treasure in the Driftless Area, and we should treat it like one.”

“RUS is required by federal law to ‘rigorously explore and objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives’ to proposed transmission lines like the Cardinal-Hickory Creek project,” said Howard Learner, one of the Environmental Law and Policy Center attorneys representing DALC. “RUS cannot simply look at different environmentally harmful routes for this huge transmission line and call it a day.”

“Iowa County residents have come together to adamantly oppose this unneeded high-voltage power line, which would irreversibly damage the landscape, ecology, and recreation economy we depend on,” said Betsy D’Angelo, a member of the Driftless Defenders’ leadership team. “There are alternatives that can improve our electric system without damaging the Driftless Area’s most important natural areas.”

“The draft environmental impact statement for the Cardinal-Hickory Creek project ignores the reality of new technology that has improved energy efficiency and decreased the demand for electricity,” said David Meylor, chairman of the Western Dane Preservation Campaign, the Mount Horeb area citizens group formed to oppose the line. “Recent analyses of electric demand demonstrate that the expensive, invasive Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line project simply isn’t needed.”

“The proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission line will have a significant negative impact on fish and wildlife habitat and the management of public lands in Southwestern Wisconsin and in light of other energy alternatives should not be constructed,” stated George Meyer, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation.

The proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line would install towers of up to 175-feet along a 100-mile route that would affect sensitive natural areas and disrupt economic activity. The project could cost ratepayers more than $1 billion during the life of the project, including a profit margin for the transmission line’s utility owners that is guaranteed by Wisconsin law.

Legal counsel for the Driftless Area Land Conservancy will be reviewing the RUS’s draft EIS in greater detail and will submit comprehensive public comments to the agency. Members of the public are strongly encouraged to submit comments before the deadline of Feb. 5, 2019.

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Issued by:

Driftless Area Land Conservancy

Driftless Defenders

Environmental Law and Policy Center

Western Dane County Preservation Campaign

Wisconsin Wildlife Federation

Environmental & Public Health Groups Challenge US EPA’s Decision to Exclude Areas from Ozone Non-attainment List that Would Trigger Clean-up

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Environmental and Public Health Groups Challenge US EPA’s Decision to Exclude Areas from Ozone Non-attainment List that Would Trigger Clean-up

 

Washington, D.C. — On August 2, the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) and Respiratory Health Association (RHA) sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, challenging the EPA’s final rule, published in June 2018, that identified areas that meet and fail to meet the 2015 ozone air quality health standard.

ELPC and RHA are challenging the exclusion of certain areas in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana from the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis “non-attainment” areas that have smog levels above the 2015 standard.

“EPA has sadly disregarded the plain facts and sound science in making these designations,” said Howard Learner, ELPC’s Executive Director. “EPA has not followed the letter or the spirit of the Clean Air Act and has excluded areas involving unhealthy air quality for millions of Midwesterners. Cleaner air is essential to public health and a strong economy in our region.”

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to designate non-attainment areas in counties where air quality fails to meet federal health standards for ozone and where local emissions contribute to unhealthy air quality. The states must then take steps to reduce emissions of the air pollution that cause smog.

In 2015, EPA issued a more protective ozone air health standard, which triggered a process to identify violating areas so that clean air planning could begin. In the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis areas, EPA originally proposed more comprehensive non-attainment areas, but excluded certain areas in its final decision in June in response to requests from the states.

“We are very concerned that EPA would dial back these decisions,” said Brian Urbaszewski, Director of Environmental Health Programs at Respiratory Health Association in Chicago. “Everyone deserves to breathe clean air, and EPA’s decision puts area residents at risk of more lung infections, asthma attacks, and hospitalizations for respiratory problems.”

Ozone is formed when pollution emitted by power plants, industrial facilities, motor vehicles and other activities reacts with sunlight to form ozone. Ozone, also known as “smog,” is a lung irritant and harms people with asthma or other respiratory diseases, older adults, children and other vulnerable people. It can drive kids and sensitive adults inside on hot sunny summer days  and put outdoor workers at risk.

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Chicago Sun-Times: Trump Heading to Wisconsin for Groundbreaking of Controversial Foxconn Factory

June 27, 2018
Trump Heading to Wisconsin for Groundbreaking of Controversial Foxconn Factory
By Stefano Esposito

President Donald Trump is heading just north of the Illinois border Thursday to break ground for a massive Foxconn electronics factory that could bring 13,000 jobs to Wisconsin, but also faces opposition from environmental groups and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Madigan is expected to file a lawsuit in the coming weeks challenging a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule change allowing the Taiwanese manufacturer to skirt air pollution standards for a plant planned for Racine County.

[…]

“We are concerned that air quality will get worse rather than better if the Foxconn facility is built as proposed and the EPA allows Wisconsin to weaken the clean air standards,” said Howard Learner, executive director of Environmental Law and Policy Center, a Chicago-based environmental protection and economic development advocacy organization.

READ FULL ARTICLE

 

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin Wants Break from Ozone Rules in Advance of Foxconn Development

Wisconsin Wants Break from Trump Administration on Ozone Rules in Advance of Foxconn Development
By Lee Bergquist

Despite evidence that southeast Wisconsin is violating new and tougher emissions standards for smog, state officials are asking the Trump administration to set aside a recent federal finding and conclude the state is complying with the law.

Falling short of that, the state Department of Natural Resources is recommending federal officials carve out narrow strips of land of a few miles along the Lake Michigan shoreline as violating the new standard for ozone pollution and declare the rest of the state in compliance.

The state’s request to the U.S. Environmental Protection would weaken the impact of stricter regulations on factories and other large sources of air pollution — including Racine County where Foxconn Technology Group is planning to build a giant manufacturing campus.

To justify their request, DNR officials are arguing that meteorological and air emissions data show that Illinois and Indiana are primarily responsible for pollution that blows north along the lake and creates smog.

But environmental groups say the claim ignores Wisconsin’s own contribution of ozone pollution.

If the Trump administration sides with Gov. Scott Walker and other state officials, it could benefit Foxconn and comes after Wisconsin promised environmental exemptions for the company as part of a state and local financial incentive package totaling $4 billion.

Regardless of the outcome, motorists in southeastern Wisconsin will still be required to buy reformulated gasoline, said Gail Good, director of air management for the DNR. Reformulated gas, which is more expensive, has been sold in the Milwaukee area since 1995 and is a tool regulators use to reduce smog.

Ozone is a summer pollutant and is created when heat and light interact with nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds. The pollutants come from sources such as factories, power plants and emissions from cars and trucks.

Depending on how the EPA responds, the outcome could have far-reaching health and economic impacts for counties stretching from Kenosha to Door. An EPA spokeswoman said the agency is evaluating Wisconsin’s proposal.

Higher levels of ground-level ozone can lead to reduced lung function for people working and exercising outdoors or those with respiratory problems like asthma. The stricter regulations would help to lower ozone levels in the region and were advanced after a five-year scientific review.

If the EPA declares all or parts of nine Wisconsin counties as violating the stricter ozone standard, factories could face higher costs, especially new or expanding plants that would be required to purchase top-of-the-line pollution controls regardless of cost and make other changes to their operations.

“EPA’s intended designations threaten Wisconsin’s economic engine and could result in severe and unnecessary economic consequences,” DNR Secretary Daniel L. Meyer said in a letter to the EPA on Feb. 28.

The ozone rules have taken on a political dynamic because of the potential impact on Foxconn and future development near the plant and because the rules were advanced in 2015 under the Obama administration.

Wisconsin and other like-minded states filed a lawsuit against the rules in 2016, arguing the stiffer ozone limits failed to take pollution into account that was outside a state’s control.

Also, an EPA spokeswoman said Regional Administrator Cathy Stepp recently recused herself in the Wisconsin request. Stepp had advocated against the Obama rules as Wisconsin DNR secretary.

President Donald Trump attended the announcement in Washington, D.C., that Foxconn had chosen Wisconsin for its plant.

Foxconn is building a $10 billion plant to produce liquid crystal display panels. The plant could employ as many as 13,000 people.

In a statement, Foxconn said it is monitoring the situation. Foxconn said it supports the DNR’s recommendation, adding that it is “grounded in science, and supports Wisconsin’s economic goals while effectively meeting air quality requirements.

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