When unpopular President Donald Trump isn’t fabricating congratulatory phone calls he’s received from
Steve Bannon holding a handkerchief over the phone the Boy Scouts, he’s trying to tout the big $10 billion investment in Wisconsin being made by Tawanese electronics giant Foxconn. That’s a big deal. I wonder how they made it happen? With “incentives” of course.
The factory will employ 3,000 people initially and as many as 13,000 people eventually. The plant also could draw as many as 150 supporting suppliers to Southeastern Wisconsin and surrounding states, according to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. The state is providing Foxconn with a $3 billion, 15-year incentive package of tax credits, Walker said.
According to a Scott Walker state official these jobs will lead to more jobs and the incentive package is tied to those increased jobs. Fair enough. I doubt the math will work out, since it never does in these cases, but at least you are making an argument. However, Wisconsin’s Journal Sentinel has a few more details about how wide a net these “incentives” may be cast.
The Taiwanese company will require an array of air and water pollution permits, ranging from prescribed limits on smokestacks to the construction of green infrastructure to keeping rain from washing off a 1,000-acre campus and flooding neighboring areas.
“This is going to require all hands on deck,” former Natural Resources Secretary Matt Frank said.
Business Insider points out that the need to create space, and soon, for Foxconn means cutting some corners—and by “corners” we mean “breathable air” and “non-polluted water.”
The draft bill allows Foxconn to discharge dredged or fill material into some wetlands without state permits. The legislation also would allow Foxconn to connect artificial bodies of water with natural waterways without state permits.
[Foxconn Chairman Terry] Gou told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Wisconsin was appealing in part because of its proximity to abundant fresh water from Lake Michigan.
"New business is great, but it shouldn't come at the expense of our water and air," Clean Wisconsin said on Facebook.
Here’s Wisconsin NPR’s list of important environmental rollbacks contained in Gov. Walker’s bill.
- Let Foxconn discharge dredged materials or fill wetlands without a permit. The provision would apply not only to wetlands Foxconn fills when it's constructing its 1.6 square mile complex, but also to wetlands it fills once its new facility is fully operational.
- Exempt the company from another state law that requires businesses to create new wetlands when they get permits to fill existing ones.
- Allow Foxconn to change the course of a stream, or straighten a stream without a permit.
- Let Foxconn build on a lake or stream bed without a permit.
- Sidestep a state law that requires environmental impact statements before businesses can begin construction.
- Let public utility projects begin for the Foxconn complex without approval by the Public Service Commission.