A number of environmentalists and activist groups are attempting to stop Tesla's planned expansion of Gigafactory Texas. The automaker wants to build a new battery cathode plant next to its main Austin facility. The groups outlined their concerns in a letter to Mayor Steve Adler, calling on him to withhold Tesla's permits.
One of the main issues was the environmental impact the extra construction would have on the local area. The groups felt Tesla has already done enough environmental damage in Austin with the construction of its main factory, and an additional battery cathode facility is unnecessary. Its construction would require even more of the city's resources, such as water. The latter is a key concern, with the groups worried a "toxic" battery cathode plant by the Colorado River might infect Austin's water supply.
The environmentalists are also annoyed by the lack of progress on the promised "ecological paradise" Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted about. The following is an excerpt from the groups letter:
"To date, Tesla has failed to meaningfully engage nearby residents, and elected leaders have not applied enough pressure to bring the company to the table. Two years ago, Tesla was offered tens of millions of public dollars in tax breaks from neighboring jurisdictions to come here. The signed agreements and pronouncements allude to many possible community benefits but lack specificity or enforcement provisions. Since 2020, we note that the company has cleared swaths of trees, moved mountains of dirt, filled in ponds, and poured over 100 contiguous acres of concrete for its factory, with apparently no priority given to the creation of a promised “ecological paradise” on the riverfront.
Public officials as well as neighbors have been left scratching their heads wondering whether the company will live up to any of its verbal commitments, or continue to operate with little regard to social or environmental responsibility.The Tesla factory is yet another disturbing example of environmental injustice on the east side of Austin, following a longstanding pattern of polluting industrial projects being concentrated near low-income communities of color, disregarding the negative impacts on human and environmental health."