The bill put forward by Wisconsin's governor, Scott Walker, to tempt Foxconn into placing its new factory in the state, makes some glaring omissions when it comes to the environment.
American taxpayers already had reasons to be wary of the Foxconn plant: not only are they subsidising its construction, but the company - one of the world's largest producers of LCD displays - has a history of not keeping employment promises.
As well as the legislation promising $3 billion in taxpayer subsidies, blanket waivers are also included to exempt the firm from the state's environmental statutes.
Companies in Wisconsin are banned from dumping waste or otherwise polluting the state's wetlands without a permit. However, Walker's bill allows firms operating in the newly-created ‘economics and information technology manufacturing zone' to discharge materials into non-federal wetlands, if those materials relate to the construction or operation of a manufacturing facility.
Analysts looking at the bill also noted another section, which describes how companies are currently required obtain a permit before disturbing or transforming existing waterways. The new legislation, they say, can be used to waive those requirements "if they relate to the construction, access, or operation of a new manufacturing facility" in the proposed development zone.
Energy utilities built inside the zone are not forgotten; they will be exempt from facing regulatory oversight by the state's Public Service Commission.
Midwest Environmental Advocates staff attorney Sarah Geers said, "In the rush to pass this legislation, cutting a deal with Foxconn means cutting corners on environmental protections and cutting the public out of government transparency. Legislators may be touting this agreement as one of our state's biggest economic development deals, but giving away the public's fresh water resources is different than offering tax breaks or other economic incentives. A project this big needs just as much environmental as economic accountability."
Foxconn has a poor track record on environmental health; in 2013 it was criticised for dumping waste into nearby rivers, turning water ‘a black-green colour'.
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