Eco-terrorists hit Tesla, Rivian halts factory as activists cheer

Many people who buy electric vehicles do so for environmental reasons. But they might not be so thrilled about having an EV manufacturing site near their home. 

Yesterday, Tesla rival Rivian announced that it’s halting plans to build a $5 billion factory in Georgia. Instead, it will manufacture its upcoming R2 and R3 models at its existing plant in Illinois, allowing it to save more than $2.25 billion in capital expenditures.

While the politicians who lured Rivian with tax incentives might be disappointed—the company pledged to create 7,500 jobs by the end of 2028—some Georgia residents living near the planned facility breathed a sigh of relief, for now at least.

Among them was JoEllen Artz, who spoke to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after Rivian’s announcement. She leads a group that opposes the EV maker’s plans, citing the potential impact on local water supplies. The site sits in a groundwater recharge area in which many residents rely on private wells. 

“Our water is more important than anybody’s electric vehicle,” Artz told the newspaper. 

According to Rivian, its plan is to delay construction of the plant, not scrap it.

“Our Georgia site remains really important to us,” Rivian CEO R.J. Scaringe said yesterday. “It’s core to the scaling across all these vehicles, between R2, R3, R3X.” 

Tesla saboteurs

Meanwhile in Germany, Tesla’s first European gigafactory recently endured sabotage from activists who cited water supply as a top concern. Calling themselves the Volcano Group, they set a high-voltage power mast ablaze on Tuesday, knocking out power to the carmaker’s plant, as well as to nearby residents.

Tesla said it has shuttered production until next week and would suffer nearly $1 billion in damages. CEO Elon Musk insulted the group on X, writing: “These are either the dumbest eco-terrorists on Earth or they’re puppets of those who don’t have good environmental goals. Stopping production of electric vehicles, rather than fossil fuel vehicles, ist extrem dumm.” (That last bit is German for “extremely dumb.”)

Last month, Stern reported on the Tesla plant’s environmental impact. According to the German publication, a local water utility found evidence that the factory has been polluting the water supply with phosphorus and nitrogen compounds at levels up to six times the legal limit.

Meanwhile residents in the area voted against an expansion of the Tesla factory. The referendum wasn’t binding, but protestors have been camping in the woods to prevent clearing attempts.

‘Ecocidal disgrace’ 

Rivian and Tesla aren’t the only companies that have encountered resistance to EV-related manufacturing projects. 

In Quebec, activists protested earlier this year against a $7 billion EV-battery production plant being planned by the Swedish firm Northvolt, founded by two former Tesla executives in 2015. Protestors dubbed the project an “ecocidal disgrace.” 

Similar protests arose in Hungary last year against a Chinese-owned EV battery plant—built by Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (CATL)—with residents worried about the potential impact on water supplies.

Of course, all kinds of planned or existing factories are met with protests. In France, climate activists recently stormed a “forever chemical” plant outside Lyon, following mounting health concerns among nearby residents. 

The making of EVs and their batteries also requires large amounts of minerals. That means new or expanded mines with environmental problems of their own focused on extracting minerals such as graphite, nickel, and lithium. 

“The transition to low-carbon fuels is not a magic bullet with no negative outcome,” Sergey Paltsev, a senior research scientist at MIT, told the Washington Post last September. “There is no free lunch. But it’s much less harmful than if we stay with fossil fuels.” 

Subscribe to the Eye on AI newsletter to stay abreast of how AI is shaping the future of business. Sign up for free.

Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button