In a settlement with the US government, Tesla agreed to pay a $275,000 fine. At its electric car production facilities in Fremont, California, the Environmental Protection Agency was accused of violating the federal Clean Air Act. For a corporation that made $2.32 billion in net income in the fourth quarter of last year, the penalty is minuscule.
From October 2016 to September 2019, the EPA found Tesla in violation of specific regulations known as National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Surface Coating of Automobiles and Light-Duty Trucks, which could put people living in nearby communities at risk of health and environmental harm. Tesla’s plant used coating materials that contained formaldehyde, ethylbenzene, naphthalene, and xylene, all of which are dangerous air pollutants.
The EPA assessed that Tesla either did not design or follow a work practice plan to prevent hazardous air pollutant emissions from the storage and mixing of ingredients used to coat Tesla’s vehicles based on repeated requests for information from Tesla. Tesla also failed to perform the required monthly emissions calculations to demonstrate compliance with federal standards, as well as collect and keep all required records related to pollutant emission rate calculations for coating operations, according to the EPA. The EPA has previously chastised Tesla and its Fremont facility, which has also been accused of severe sexual and racial discrimination.
According to the EPA, Tesla agreed to pay a $31,000 penalty in 2019 for failing to comply with air emissions standards for equipment leaks, management requirements for hazardous waste generators, and failing to make an adequate hazardous waste determination for certain solid waste generated at the facility. Tesla also had to pay $55,000 for emergency response equipment for the Fremont Fire Department at the time. Tesla employees told CNBC in 2018 that many fires occurred in the paint shop of the Fremont facility, in part because filters used to clean and transport air into and out of the building were clearly coated in paint and clearcoat.
“One of the major components EPA utilizes to guarantee that the regulated community follows environmental laws and regulations is compliance monitoring,” the EPA noted in a statement. “Today’s case is only another example of the Agency’s extensive compliance inspection of this plant throughout the years. Tesla has remedied the violations identified in both settlements and is now in full compliance.”