Tesla’s Gigafactory 1, just east of Reno-Sparks, is expected to gain state approval for a classification change that will allow it to increase the amount of emissions it releases each year.
The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection has concluded that Tesla’s application meets the requirements set by federal and state law. The agency is now seeking public comment until August 17 before issuing a new permit for the Gigafactory for its new class designation.
The class change and increased allowable emissions do not mean that the standards Tesla must follow will be less stringent, according to the NDEP.
“The proposed permit still requires Tesla, Inc. to maintain compliance with state and federal regulations and ambient air quality standards, and also requires the facility to conduct regular monitoring and reporting,” the NDEP said. in an email response to questions from the Reno. Gazette Journal. “While the facility’s overall emissions are expected to increase, the permit sets emission limits to ensure the protection of public health.”
Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory currently operates under a Class II Air Quality Permit.
The Class II designation applies to facilities that emit less than 100 tonnes of a regulated pollutant per year and less than 25 tonnes of hazardous air pollutants. The latter involves toxic air pollutants that can cause cancer, birth defects and serious environmental impacts.
Moving to a Class I designation means the Gigafactory will be allowed to emit more than 100 tons of a regulated pollutant and more than 25 tons of a hazardous air pollutant per year.
Tesla’s Gigfactory partner, Panasonic, has steadily expanded the facility over the years as demand for electric cars and, therefore, its batteries have continued to grow. The latest involves an expansion of the Gigafactory which was planned for early 2022.
Tesla is also seeing an increase in sales and production of its electric vehicles, barely missing the million units last year. Tesla delivered more than 936,000 vehicles in 2021, up significantly from just under 500,000 vehicles in 2020. The company also reported nearly 255,000 vehicle deliveries for the second quarter of 2022. More sales mean that more batteries are needed, leading to increased activity at the Gigafactory.
The impact of the expansion was confirmed by the NDEP.
“This new permit is necessary due to the continued expansion of the facility and its growing emission potential,” the NDEP said.
Just recently, Tesla reached a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency regarding violations of the Clean Air Act by its car manufacturing plant in Fremont, California. Tesla paid a $275,000 fine under the settlement agreement with the EPA.
Pollutants emitted at the Nevada facility, meanwhile, include volatile organic compounds, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and particulates, according to the NDEP. The agency, however, assured that the increase in emissions would be within safe levels.
“Air dispersion modeling shows that all pollutants emitted from the facility will remain below established air quality thresholds and other limits for major sources of air pollution established by the federal Air Quality Act. the air,” the NDEP said.
The NDEP added that it will post a copy of its review and draft operating permit for public review at https://ndep.nv.gov/posts once they become available.
Members of the public who wish to comment on Tesla’s Nevada application prior to final approval may submit a comment in person to the NDEP’s Carson City office or mail them to:
Jaimie Mara, Nevada Environmental Protection Division, Office of Air Pollution Control, 901 South Stewart Street, Suite 4001, Carson City, Nevada 89701.
Mara can also be reached by phone at 775-687-9343.
The Reno Gazette Journal has contacted Tesla for comment.
Jason Hidalgo covers business and technology for the Reno Gazette Journal, and also reviews the latest video games with Technobubble Tech & Gaming. Follow him on Twitter @jasonhidalgo. Do you like this content ? Support local journalism with an RGJ digital subscription.