May 4, 2018 / 10:41 PM / 17 days ago

Illinois to sue EPA for exempting Foxconn plant from pollution controls

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Illinois’ Attorney General said on Friday she plans to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for allowing a proposed Foxconn Technology Co Ltd plant in neighboring Wisconsin to operate without stringent pollution controls.

The logo of Foxconn, the trading name of Hon Hai Precision Industry, is seen on top of the company's building in Taipei, Taiwan March 30, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

On Tuesday, the EPA identified 51 areas in 22 states that do not meet federal air quality requirements for ozone, a step toward enforcing the standards issued in 2015.

An exempted area was Racine County, Wisconsin, just north of the Illinois border that is known to have heavily polluted air, where Taiwan-based Foxconn is building a $10 billion liquid-crystal display plant.

Pollution monitoring data show the county’s ozone levels exceed the 70 parts per billion (ppb) limit. If Racine County had been designated a “non-attainment” area, it would have required Foxconn to install stringent pollution control equipment.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan said she would file a lawsuit in the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the EPA’s ozone designations, saying its failure to name Racine County a “non-attainment” area puts people at risk.

“Despite its name, the Environmental Protection Agency now operates with total disregard for the quality of our air and water, and in this case, the U.S. EPA is putting a company’s profit ahead of our natural resources and the public’s health,” Madigan said in a statement.

The EPA, under Administrator Scott Pruitt, left Racine County off its non-attainment list despite an agency staff analysis of ozone levels in Wisconsin published in December, which found that the county’s air exceeded federal ozone limits.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who supports bringing Foxconn to Wisconsin, tweeted on Tuesday that the state would work with EPA “to implement a plan that continues to look out for the best interest of Wisconsin.”

Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled state Assembly last year voted to approve a bill that paves the way for a $3 billion incentives package for a proposed by Foxconn.

Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Richard Chang

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