Map dated 18 January 2018 showing the Electronics and Information Technology Manufacturing Zone in southeast Wisconsin. The first phases of the Foxconn project are proposed primarily in the eastern two-thirds of Area 1 in this map. Graphic: Wisconsin DNR

By Michael Hawthorne
2 May 2018

(Chicago Tribune) – The Trump administration on Tuesday exempted most of southeast Wisconsin from the latest federal limits on lung-damaging smog pollution, delivering a political victory to Gov. Scott Walker as he makes a new Foxconn Technology Group factory the centerpiece of his re-election campaign.

By dramatically reducing the size of the areas required to crack down on smog, Trump EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt overruled the agency’s career staff, a move that will save Foxconn from having to make expensive improvements as it builds a sprawling new electronics plant in Racine County, just north of the Illinois border in an area with some of the state’s dirtiest air.

Pruitt also pared back the list of counties with dirty air in Illinois and Indiana, a decision that could add to Chicago’s chronic problems with pollution linked to asthma attacks, heart disease, and early deaths.

Tweaking the list of counties in violation of federal smog standards is the latest attempt by Pruitt to roll back or delay environmental regulations enacted during the Obama administration. It comes as a new peer-reviewed study found that improvements in air quality across the U.S. have slowed significantly in recent years.

The EPA did not address the last-minute changes in a news release that quoted Pruitt as saying he was “following the data and the law.” But the areas removed from the list were suggested by Republican elected officials who have sought to curb the EPA’s authority to force industries to clean up the air.

“We are working with the EPA to implement a plan that continues to look out for the best interest of Wisconsin,” Walker, a 2016 Republican presidential candidate, said Tuesday in a Twitter post. “We continue to search for ways to balance between environmental stewardship and a positive, pro-jobs business environment.”

Walker blames Chicago for making the air unhealthy to breathe in parts of Wisconsin. However, an EPA staff analysis of industrial pollution, traffic patterns, and weather patterns concluded Wisconsin is at least partially responsible for its own smog problems, and documents filed with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources show Foxconn would be a major new source of smog-forming pollution. [more]

EPA chief Pruitt overrules staff, gives Wisconsin's Walker, Foxconn big break on smog


  1. Anonymous said...

    Most places seem to be running about 10 degrees above average. If this is May, what's July going to look like?  


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