Foxconn Will Be Major Source of Pollution
A scientist analyses the impact of the mega-plant.
Sustainable development meets the needs of this generation without compromising the opportunity of future generations (our children). Historically, humanity has given little thought to sustainability because Earth seemed to offer an endless supply of food, water, and resources. But an increasing population and technological power have encroached on nature to the point that we are facing enormous environmental problems that compromise our future and that of our children.
The Foxconn deal follows our current path toward environmental degradation. It was pushed through state government with the explicit intention of ignoring environmental concerns. Most egregious, the company was permitted to bypass filing an environmental impact statement. In its absence, here are some pressing issues about the factory under construction in rural Racine County.
The project will take out of production and destroy some of the best farmland in Wisconsin at a time when feeding the world’s burgeoning population is becoming increasingly problematic. This will be an irreversible transformation; once subjected to intense industrial-chemical use, the land cannot be reclaimed for farming.
To produce flat screen monitors, many chemicals must be utilized. In the process, the plant will emit many pollutants, including nitrogen oxides, volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), particulates, carbon monoxide and greenhouse gases. According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards, the factory will be designated a “major source” polluter of each of these contaminants. This stew of emissions makes Foxconn a uniquely troubling operation. Nitrogen oxides and VOCs combine in sunlight to produce harmful ozone; carbon monoxide prolongs its lifetime in the atmosphere. So, Foxconn emissions may be particularly efficient in producing ozone. Racine County is already a non-attainment area for ozone. In addition, particulates are important contributors to dangerous lung and cardiovascular diseases. Is there a health concern? Yes. Children in a number of nearby Racine and Kenosha schools are in the path of these pollutants.
Foxconn also will be a “major source” polluter of greenhouse gases, emitting more than 10 times the amount that triggers this designation. Considering the unfolding crisis of climate change, this level of discharge is irresponsible. Foxconn could have addressed its huge release of greenhouse gases with on-site installation and off-site investment in renewable energy generation. That did not happen.
The problems are compounded by Foxconn’s rural location. Miles from water, electricity, and adequate transportation, all this infrastructure must be specially constructed for the company. Everyone and everything must travel many miles along the expanded lanes of I-94 to reach the facility, with their vehicles emitting tons of carbon dioxide and other pollutants. The thought of integrating rail mass transit into the project was not considered despite the obvious benefits of reduced pollution and energy use and convenient access to the Foxconn plant for economically disadvantaged workers and supplies and products being transported to and from the factory.
The Foxconn project is billed as transformational for Wisconsin’s economy. But by 21st century environmental standards, it is out of date. The company recently announced that it will sponsor a contest to envision the future of “smart cities.” Another competition to plan an environmentally sound Foxconn would have been welcome.
- Murphy’s Law: The Foxconn Real Estate Show - Bruce Murphy - Feb 25th, 2021
- Murphy’s Law: Local Costs for Foxconn Cut By 2% - Bruce Murphy - Feb 8th, 2021
- Foxconn Sued for Breach of Contract - Corri Hess - Feb 4th, 2021
- Vos and Wanggaard Continue to Gaslight Public on Foxconn Development - A Better Mt. Pleasant - Feb 3rd, 2021
- Murphy’s Law: Robin Vos Will Solve Foxconn Fiasco - Bruce Murphy - Feb 2nd, 2021
- Murphy’s Law: 9 Reasons a New Foxconn Contract Is Unlikely - Bruce Murphy - Dec 21st, 2020
- Audit Says Foxconn Loophole Needs a Fix - Corri Hess - Dec 9th, 2020
- Back in the News: Residents Outraged by Foxconn Fiasco - Bruce Murphy - Dec 8th, 2020
- Back in the News: Foxconn Landing Google Contract? - Bruce Murphy - Nov 23rd, 2020
- Op Ed: Mistake? Foxconn Was a Whopper - John Torinus - Oct 30th, 2020
Read more about Foxconn Facility here