Tesla Gets Order To Stop Polluting Excessively in California — 112 Notices of Violation Since 2019

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It seems that the Bay Area Air Quality Management District is getting a bit fed up with Tesla. Or, at least, it’s getting fed up with one specific problem at the Tesla Fremont factory and Tesla’s unwillingness to correct it. The district published a news release this week requiring that Tesla finally address this appropriately. Also, in the letter, a bit more was explained about it that sure does make it seem like an odd violation.

First of all, here was the title of the district’s news release: “Air District Hearing Board orders Tesla to correct ongoing air quality violations.” And here’s the subheading: “Tesla must correct frequent, recurring emissions at their Fremont facility.”

What will happen if Tesla doesn’t correct these problems? Well, that’s not clear, as nothing was mentioned on that matter.

Let’s just share the whole news release before going on:


SAN FRANCISCO — The Bay Area Air Quality Management District announced today that the agency’s independent Hearing Board has ordered Tesla to correct air quality violations at its electric vehicle manufacturing facility in Fremont. A written order is expected to be issued this week.

The Air District sought the abatement order to stop frequent and ongoing violations from the paint shop operations at the facility. Tesla has emitted harmful precursor organic compounds and toxic air contaminants directly into the atmosphere without proper abatement, resulting in over 112 Notices of Violation since 2019. Each of these violations can emit hundreds of pounds of illegal air pollution, according to some estimates. The violations are frequent, recurring and can negatively affect public health and the environment.

“Tesla’s ongoing violations at their Fremont facility pose a risk to public health and air quality in the surrounding community,” said Dr. Philip Fine, executive officer of the Air District. “This order is crucial to ensure that Tesla takes prompt and effective action to stop harmful emissions and comply with all air quality regulations to protect the health of those living near the facility.”

The order requires Tesla to implement a plan to address these recurring violations through a two-step process:

  • First, hire a third-party consultant to do an evaluation and make recommendations. Tesla must then develop a proposed implementation plan to implement the recommendations, which it will file with the Hearing Board for approval.
  • Second, execute the implementation plan as approved by the Hearing Board to stop the avoidable release of uncontrolled emissions, except where it may be absolutely necessary for safety reasons.

Tesla’s recurring violations result from a variety of causes. In some cases, Tesla’s thermal oxidizer or related components of the abatement system break down repeatedly and Tesla’s system design causes emissions to automatically be vented directly into the atmosphere without proper abatement as a result, even when abatement can still be done. In other cases, the abatement equipment is functioning properly, but Tesla shuts the abatement system down when there are problems with Page 2 of 2 2024-027 other equipment in the paint shops. This has happened even when these problems are caused by Tesla staff or its contractors, and unabated emissions are sent into the atmosphere.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is the regional agency responsible for protecting air quality in the nine-county Bay Area. Connect with the Air District via X/Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.


It’s concerning to me that this has been going on since 2019 and are described as “frequent” and “recurring.” Why can this not be fixed? Why is this not being remedied?

One of the key recommendations, or requirements, in the letter is as follows: “First, hire a third-party consultant to do an evaluation and make recommendations.” If this is the key next step needed, why has it not been done yet? This seems like a simple thing to do. Tesla is sitting on billions of dollars of cash. Surely, it can afford a consultant to better investigate this problem and come up with some solutions?

The letter also notes that Tesla routinely turns off the abatement systems.

“In some cases, Tesla’s thermal oxidizer or related components of the abatement system break down repeatedly and Tesla’s system design causes emissions to automatically be vented directly into the atmosphere without proper abatement as a result, even when abatement can still be done. In other cases, the abatement equipment is functioning properly, but Tesla shuts the abatement system down when there are problems with other equipment in the paint shops.” I’m no third-party expert or consultant, but it seems like Tesla needs to find a way to separate this abatement system from some other systems that lead to the company shutting down abatement equipment all too often. Why is this so hard to figure out and solve?


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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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