Village of Libertyville

Congressman Schneider Hosting Congressional Hearing Investigating How Upstream Development like Foxconn Exacerbates Local Flooding

WASHINGTON, DC – July 15, 2019, U.S. Representative Brad Schneider (D-IL) announced the House Small Business Committee will host a field hearing in Illinois Tenth Congressional District that will investigate the Foxconn development in Wisconsin and its effects on flooding in downstream communities in the Des Plaines River watershed.

The field hearing, titled “Flooded Out: Vanishing Environmental Reviews and the SBA’s Disaster Loan Program,” is scheduled to begin at 10:30 A.M. on Friday, July 19, 2019 at Wheeling Village Hall – 2 Community Blvd, Wheeling, IL, 60090. The hearing is open to the public.

“When corners are cut on environmental reviews, our local communities pay the price,” said Schneider. “This is the case for my constituents along the Des Plaines river watershed. Our downstream homeowners and small businesses are predicted to face more extreme flooding after former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s Administration waived important environmental reviews to push through a massive development by Foxconn just over the state line. Upstream development is not an issue unique to our community. I look forward to learning from our witnesses who are dealing with the consequences of flooding locally and examining the need for environmental review to prevent overwhelming our communities and overloading resources such as the Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) disaster loan program that are designed to help.”

Foxconn plans to construct expansive facilities in the headwaters of the Des Plaines River in Wisconsin. Phase 1 of the Foxconn development has already filled in more than 38 acres of wetlands. During heavy rains, wetlands help mitigate flooding by absorbing water and slowing its release. Local downstream communities in Lake County have faced significant flooding in recent years, affecting more than 3,000 homes and causing millions of dollars in damage. The Lake County Board, the Lake County Storm Water Management Commission, and several Lake County towns have passed resolutions disapproving of the project, and the Illinois State Senate also adopted a resolution urging the State of Wisconsin to consider the serious environmental and public health implications of the development. This spring, the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission released an alarming engineering and hydrological report that outlined how the Foxconn development was premised on out-of-date rainfall and floodplain data, resulting in a deficit of stormwater storage. Community leaders have rightly raised concerns that this could result in downstream flooding within areas already vulnerable to flooding.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) manages its Disaster Loan Program to assist small businesses affected by flooding and other natural disasters. Following the July 2017 deluge that caused significant flooding in our region, the SBA made disaster loans available to affected small businesses in Lake County. Climate change will continue to challenge federal disaster response and recovery resources, including the SBA disaster loan program. Irresponsible development that lacks sufficient environmental review – like Foxconn – threaten these federal resources, which will already be stretched thin.

Earlier this year, Rep. Schneider led a letter with his colleagues Senator Dick Durbin, Senator Tammy Duckworth and Representative Lauren Underwood to new Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers urging him to re-evaluate the environmental impact of the proposed Foxconn construction and his state’s decision to waive important environmental review of the development. 

Mike Warner 
Executive Director
Lake County Stormwater Management Commission

Howard Learner
Executive Director
Environmental Law & Policy Center

John Durning
Pizzeria Deville

Preston Cole (invited)
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

For additional information please contact Congressman Schneider's office directly at 847-383-4868.
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