It all comes down to the Fremont paint shop.
Electric cars may not emit gas pollutants for not having an engine, but they can still pollute other ways, such as in their manufacturing process. That’s precisely what EPA said Tesla might be doing by failing to prove it complies with the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants, part of the Clean Air Act of 1963. Tesla refuted that and said it answered all EPA’s questions.
The information is included in Tesla’s SEC Quarterly Report Form 10-Q, a document filled with interesting information. This is specifically on page 40, under PART II. OTHER INFORMATION,” “ITEM 1. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS.“ This is what Tesla said there:
“In April 2021, we received a notice from the Environmental Protection Agency (the 'EPA') alleging that Tesla failed to provide records demonstrating compliance with certain requirements under the applicable National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants under the Clean Air Act of 1963, as amended, relating to Surface Coating of Automobiles and Light-Duty Trucks regulations. Tesla has responded to all information requests from the EPA and refutes the allegations. While the outcome of this matter cannot be determined at this time, it is not currently expected to have a material adverse impact on our business.”
The report also mentions that BAAQMD (Bay Area Air Quality Management District) issued notices of violation to Tesla “relating to air permitting and related compliance for the Fremont Factory, but has not initiated formal proceedings.”
In both cases, Tesla repeats that it will not have a “material adverse impact” on its operations, something it also said about a €12-million fine – $14,549,400 at the current exchange rate – Tesla received in Germany for not recycling its battery packs as it should. The company claims in the report the issue is “primarily relating to administrative requirements” and that it “has continued to take back battery packs.”
The Drive wrote back in June 2019 about violations in Fremont. At the time, BAAQMD had already issued 18 notices of violation and 21 permit deviations since the beginning of 2018. It is unclear if Tesla refers to the same notices of violation or new ones in its SEC report.
We got in touch with EPA to learn exactly what are the compliance issues Tesla has concerning the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants and if they are connected to the BAAQMD notices of violation. The agency said it "doesn’t comment on enforcement matters.”