Foxconn receives air emissions permits from DNR

Approval comes before EPA decision on ozone standard

Attendees visit the Foxconn lounge at the MMAC all-member meeting

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:12 pm

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has approved air emissions permits for Foxconn Technology Group, allowing the electronics manufacturing giant to move forward with plans for a $10 billion LCD panel facility in Mount Pleasant.

Attendees visit the Foxconn lounge at the MMAC all-member meeting

The approval gives Foxconn three years to construct the processes described in its applications. The company submitted four applications to the state for the Mount Pleasant site. The applications included an assembly facility, a nitrogen plant, an energy facility and the main LCD fabrication facility. The DNR issued a preliminary approval in March.

Foxconn issued a statement Tuesday that said the company was “pleased” with the approval and “excited to see the project make important progress.”

“In applying for these important permits, Foxconn has emphasized that we are fully committed to complying with all relevant federal, state, and local rules and regulations that apply to our operations and to being a responsible corporate citizen,” the statement said, emphasizing the use of best-available control technology. “Based on our analyses and the information provided to the WDNR, our campus will not have a material adverse impact on air quality, including ozone concentrations, in Racine County or anywhere else in the upper Midwest.”

BizTimes reported in March the company’s proposed emissions would represent a roughly 6 percent increase in Racine County emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, both precursors to ground-level ozone.

The DNR’s analysis determined the combined impact of Foxconn’s nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds would not contribute to a violation of emissions standards.

The approval comes as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering more stringent ozone designations for portions of Wisconsin, including Racine County. If the EPA had designated the area where the Foxconn plant is planned as having not attained the 2015 ozone standard before the approval it could have been more difficult or costly for Foxconn to get approval to build its facility.

A public hearing on the permits was held on April 3 in Sturtevant and a public comment period ended April 16. The DNR had 60 days from the end of the public comment period to issue a decision on the permits.

The EPA is under a court order to issue a decision on the more stringent standards by April 30.

In response to public comments suggesting the department should wait until the EPA makes a determination or should consider the permits under the more stringent standard, the DNR said it would have “no regulatory authority” to make the determination on the tougher standard.

“The department also strives to meet the timelines of all permittees applying for a construction permit,” the department said in another response. “It would be an arbitrary decision not supported by law for the department to not issue a construction permit as expeditiously as practicable if the application for a permit meets the requirements for approval.”

The department also said the EPA decision would not be effective for another 30 or 60 days from when the decision was published in the Federal Register.

Foxconn’s permit applications did not include a glass plant that will supply the fabrication facility. Some public comments questioned if permits could be issued without information on the glass plant’s emissions. The DNR said its review determined the emissions sources included in the applications met the criteria for approval and another air quality review would be conducted for the entire facility if another application is filed.

“The department does not have the authority to speculate on the impacts of additional sources on the air quality analysis at this time,” the response said.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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