The legal challenge to the city of Racine’s plan to divert Great Lakes water to the Foxconn industrial complex has advanced, with the notice of a pre-hearing conference date and the addition of prominent petitioners.
Earlier this year, the Midwest Environmental Advocates — on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Riverkeeper, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and River Alliance of Wisconsin — filed a legal challenge with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
MEA, in the challenge, maintains the DNR’s approval of Racine’s request for a Great Lakes water diversion for the Foxconn development violates the Great Lakes Compact — the interstate agreement enacted to protect this economic and cultural resource. The compact requires diversions of Great Lakes water be limited to public, largely residential, uses. Yet Racine’s wants to divert 7 million gallons per day of Lake Michigan water west of the Great Lakes Basin divide to serve the private industrial uses of Foxconn.
At the heart of the legal challenge is a commitment to the protection of the world’s largest freshwater resource — the Great Lakes.
“The Great Lakes face threats from all directions, but the Foxconn diversion threat is particularly dangerous. It opens the door to industrial polluters sucking the life from one of North America’s most important natural resources — one that millions of Americans and Canadians rely on for drinking water, economic vitality and quality of life," said Karen Hobbs of the Natural Resources Defense Council, which represents 766,514 people in the Great Lakes states and more than 3 million in the U.S. "But worse, it undercuts the Great Lakes Compact, America’s most important protection for these essential waters. We are standing with the Great Lakes community — and hopefully the other states — to make sure the Lakes are protected for everyone’s use, not handed over to powerful special interests."
Krista Grimm, president of the League of Women Voters-Lake Michigan Region, said in a press statement, "Today, the League of Women Voters-Lake Michigan Region joins the appeal of the proposed Foxconn water diversion from Lake Michigan. The proposed diversion is based on a mistaken interpretation by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources of the Great Lakes Compact and undermines the very important protections the Compact contains. The withdrawal of Lake Michigan water outside of the watershed basin for solely commercial purposes is impermissible. Additionally, the quantity and quality of water proposed to be returned to the basin has the potential to harm the great resource that is Lake Michigan."
The pre-hearing conference is set for Sept. 12 in Madison.