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Tesla Sued Over Air Pollution Claims at Fremont Factory

ByHuey Yee Ong

May 17, 2024
Tesla Sued Over Air Pollution Claims at Fremont Factory

Tesla Sued Over Air Pollution Claims at Fremont Factory

Tesla faces legal challenges over environmental concerns at its Fremont, California factory, as the Environmental Democracy Project has filed a lawsuit alleging Tesla’s non-compliance with the Clean Air Act. This lawsuit, lodged in federal court in San Francisco, claims the electric vehicle manufacturer has breached environmental laws multiple times since January 2021 by releasing harmful pollutants into the surrounding communities.

What Are the Alleged Environmental Violations?

According to the complaint, the facility has been a source of “ongoing” environmental violations, exposing local residents and workers to excessive levels of air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, arsenic, cadmium, among others.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District corroborated these claims, noting Tesla’s Fremont plant has been the subject of 112 violation notices since 2019 due to “unabated emissions” and is currently pushing for an abatement order to mandate operational improvements at the plant.

Tesla’s Previous Legal Issues

This is not Tesla’s first encounter with regulatory issues; in 2022, the Environmental Protection Agency fined Tesla $275,000 for inadequate management of emissions records and failing to minimize pollutants from its painting operations. Additionally, Tesla settled a lawsuit earlier this year with 25 California counties over the mishandling of hazardous waste. Internationally, Tesla has faced criticism in Germany from environmental groups protesting against the deforestation and water usage for a new factory.

These environmental challenges occur amidst Tesla’s broader strategic shift under CEO Elon Musk, focusing on artificial intelligence and autonomous driving technology rather than its core electric vehicle and solar product lines. Musk, emphasizing Tesla’s aim to lead in autonomy, recently described climate activists as “communists,” further stirring controversy.

Regulatory bodies and environmental groups continue to scrutinize Tesla’s operational impacts, highlighting the tension between its environmental promises and the realities of its manufacturing practices. Tesla has yet to respond publicly to the latest lawsuit.

The Fremont factory’s specific issues include frequent equipment breakdowns and intentional deactivation of pollution controls, particularly problematic in the paint shop—a site of repeated fires and significant emissions, as previously reported by CNBC. This ongoing legal and regulatory scrutiny underscores the complex challenges Tesla faces in aligning its environmental practices with its pioneering role in the sustainable energy sector.

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Featured Image courtesy of Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.

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