Tesla Sued For Spewing Toxic Pollutants From California Plant

Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP (Getty Images)
Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP (Getty Images)

An environmental non-profit group is suing Tesla, alleging CEO Elon Musk’s automaker violated the federal Clear Air Act hundreds of times because its factory in Fremont, California was emitting harmful pollutants. This lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco, adds to mounting pressure on Tesla to improve the air quality around its flagship Fremont plant.

The Environmental Democracy Project says Tesla’s Fremont factory has been exposing nearby residents and workers to excessive amounts of nitrogen oxides, arsenic, cadmium and other harmful chemicals, according to a report from Reuters. The toxins are mostly coming from the Austin, Texas-based automaker’s paint shop. Maybe that’s why the Cybertruck is unpainted. The group is looking for an injunction to stop excess pollution in addition to civil fines of up to $121,275 per day for violating the Clean Air Act.

Earlier this month, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District said it was looking for an independent hearing board to get Tesla to reduce harmful emissions from its paint shop operations. So much for electric vehicles being environmentally friendly. Am I right, folks?


The Fremont factory operates under what is known as a Title V air permit, which is governed by the BAAQMD (I don’t know if they really use that acronym, but I like it). It found that Tesla’s operations violated that permit more than 160 times between 2012 and 2024, according to Bloomberg Law.

Here’s a little more on the history of Tesla’s environmental woes, from Reuters:

It said that Tesla’s emissions abatement system breaks down “repeatedly,” and the automaker has since 2019 racked up 112 notices of violation, opens new tab, each accounting for as much as 750 pounds of illegal air pollution.

In February, Tesla agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit by 25 California counties that claimed it mishandled hazardous waste at locations across the state.

The Environmental Democracy Project said it has authority to file a “citizen” lawsuit under the Clean Air Act because Tesla “has violated or in violation of conditions imposed by an operating permit for major sources of pollution.”

Listen, I don’t know much about anything – but for a company that exclusively produces “eco-friendly” electric vehicles, this is not a good thing to be doing. Again, I don’t know. I’m certainly not an expert.

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