The Foxconn disaster in Wisconsin should be a wake-up call to not give up on environmental issues in the hope of gaining an economic boost.
Foxconn had promised to create 13,000 jobs and invest $10B in a 20-million-square-foot facility to make giant video displays. The company has only employed a few hundred workers for light manufacturing.
Wisconsin ignored seven other US states and two Canadian provinces in order to secure those jobs. Foxconn was then authorized to consume 7 million gallons additional water daily from Lake Michigan. Scott Pruitt, an ex-US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, exempted Racine County (where Foxconn is) from federal smog regulations. Foxconn also did not have to obtain the usual water pollution permit, which would have allowed it to discharge into local waterways. Communities downstream were concerned about increased flooding.
Even though the promised jobs never came, the long-lasting environmental effects of these decisions are still evident.
As a nation, it is important to see the long term. Gaining a few jobs now is not worth the cost of a sustainable environment. A vibrant environment is vital for the economy and our health. This is especially true when our country tries to avoid the worst effects of climate changes.
Foxconned: Imaginary jobs, Bulldozed homes, and the Sacking of Local Government is a new book by Lawrence Tabak. It outlines how Wisconsin’s state and local governments used eminent domain in Wisconsin to take farms and homes to build a plant that didn’t need all that land. Unneeded roads were financed by tax payers. Many thousands of acres of land are now abandoned. The government’s total cost is close to $1 billion.
This book is another reminder of the environmental damage that poor decisions can cause today. Public officials at all levels must be careful to avoid making the same mistakes again.
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