Activists Hold Texas City Against Tesla Factory Expansion

Activists Hold Texas City Against Tesla Factory Expansion


A group of institutions associated with environmental protection sent a letter to the mayor of Austin, Texas (USA), Steve Adler, with a request to withdraw the licenses granted to Tesla for its new giga factory in the city. Recently, the American automaker opened a factory in Austin where it plans to manufacture the Model Y and Cybertruck. Among the licenses obtained from the municipality, there is one for the construction of a battery installation near the Colorado River, one of the largest in the state.

Colorado River – don’t get confused with them the broadest and most popular name, which has its mouth in the Gulf of California and crosses the Grand Canyon – bathing a good part of the state, leaving Lamesa in the west, passing Austin and reaching the Gulf of Mexico in the south. According to activists, by closing the battery factory, Tesla could jeopardize the supply of clean river water, which is an important source of electricity generation, agriculture and drinking water in Texas.

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“So far, Tesla has failed to engage local residents in a meaningful way, and elected officials have not pushed the company hard enough,” the letter reads. “Since 2020, we have found that the company has cut down many trees, removed mountains of land, filled ponds and poured more than 41 hectares of concrete at the factory, without any priority to create an ‘ecological paradise’ along the river.”

Tesla Model Y will be one of the cars manufactured at the Texas gigafactory (Photo: Handout/Tesla)

Making fun of Elon Musk

Signed by groups such as Power, the Hornsby Bend Alliance and the Texas Anti-Poverty Project, the letter calls for the licenses to be withheld until Tesla commits to protecting the river and using it responsibly. The association claims that, without such a guarantee, the plant could leak chemicals into the river – such as lithium and nickel, widely used in the production of power units – and pollute the local ecosystem.

The mention of “ecological paradise” is a clear provocation to Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, who said that the Texas plant will be “an ecological paradise, with birds in the trees, butterflies and fish”. At this time, there is still no resolution on how Austin City Hall will proceed with the case.

Rival California automaker Rivian has recently faced similar opposition in Georgia, also in the southern United States, but has received approval from local authorities to build its factory.

Main photo credit: Roschetzky Photography/Shutterstock

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