A group of environmentalists is asking the city of Austin to withhold Tesla’s permit for its upcoming battery cathode material factory next to Gigafactory Texas over concerns about water supply along the Colorado River.
Over the last two years, Tesla was simultaneously building massive factories in Germany near Berlin and in Texas, near Austin.
In Germany, the company ran into many issues with environmentalists challenging the automaker’s permits over a multitude of concerns ranging from deforestation to water usage. Meanwhile, it was smooth sailing in Texas, which is notoriously pro-business and where environmental assessments are often nothing more than a formality.
Now it seems that Tesla is facing its first serious environmental challenge in Texas as a group of environmentalists are asking for the city of Austin to hold the permit for Tesla’s upcoming cathode factory.
Local publication Austonia reported:
The groups, which include East Austin group PODER, the Texas Anti-Poverty Project, Hornsby Bend Alliance and others, demand that the city wait on permit approval until the company makes commitments to engage the community and protect the environment.
Tesla is planning to produce its own battery cells at Gigafactory Texas, and it is also planning to locally produce the cathode for those battery cells on-site in a new factory.
According to the letter sent to the city, they are particularly concerned about water supply and potential contamination with the Colorado River:
Right now, Tesla is planning to build – in addition to their 4.2 million square foot car factory – a toxic battery cathode plant along the Colorado River, near neighborhoods that do not have access to satisfactory, affordable water, while the company is planning to receive vast amounts of water from the City of Austin for its industrial operations. We are counting on you, our representatives, to hold the company accountable to the public interest before further harm is done to communities and the environment.
The municipal, county, and state governments have all been very welcoming of Gigafactory Texas, and therefore, it would be surprising if the effort is successful in stopping Tesla’s permits.
Meanwhile, the company has committed to “doing the right thing” when it comes to the environmental impact of the factory, and CEO Elon Musk even said that Gigafactory Austin is going to be an ‘ecological paradise’ open to the public.
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