Tesla has done a handful of truly amazing things — while effectively elevating the image of electric vehicles, the company is encouraging even the most diehard car enthusiasts to transition to cleaner means of transportation. However, the California-based car company was recently in hot water, after Berlin environmentalist groups brought Tesla to court in a lawsuit surrounding the company's massive car and battery factory being built just outside the city in a previously forested area.
As of August 2021, the lawsuit against Tesla has since been dropped by the plaintiffs — but what was Berlin's Tesla lawsuit about in the first place? Keep reading for more on the drama surrounding Tesla's notorious Giga Berlin, a project that certainly has local governments, residents, and environmental groups feeling seriously divided.
What was Tesla's Berlin lawsuit about?
In late 2019, Elon Musk announced major plans to construct Giga Berlin, which was soon to be Tesla's European manufacturer, and the first vehicle manufacturing plant in the State of Brandenburg. Although it would bring more jobs to the area, the company received quite a bit of backlash from locals and environmentalists alike, according to Clean Energy Wire, because the construction process required excessive tree removal, wildlife displacement, and the use of an undocumented, potentially dangerous coolant tank.
Local environmental groups including Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) and Green League decided to sue the Berlin-Brandenburg Higher Administrative Court for approving of this large-scale project with Tesla, without heavily enforcing certain environmental laws. The State Environment Agency did an in-depth investigation on said coolant tank in July, which allegedly found the presence of chemical tetrafluoropropene, which had not been approved. However, it's unclear if this was the case.
The plaintiff organizations were represented in court by an environmental lawyer named Thorsten Deppner. The lawsuit went on for more than a year, but it was officially dropped in August 2021, due to extremely high court costs, according to Teslarati.
"You win some, you lose some,” Deppner told Teslarati shortly after the case was dropped.
What will happen with Tesla's Berlin Gigafactory?
The lawsuit was never intended to shut down the project, but to adhere to environmental laws — especially in regards to the coolant tank.
"Tesla had not filed certain documentation with respect to emergency procedures concerning the storage of a particular coolant. That coolant, if ignited, can produce Hydrogen Fluoride... That was our main concern of this particular case,” Deppner told Teslarati. "We did not want to have this project shut down; we just want Tesla to follow environmental law."
Since the lawsuit officially ended, it seems as though Tesla will continue to build its Giga Factory. Hopefully the company will be taking the concerns of environmental agencies into account, moving forward, while the Berlin-Brandenburg Higher Administrative Court continues enforcing laws to protect the surrounding environment, communities, and ecosystems. However, it seems as though the local government may be more enthusiastic about reaping the economic benefits of this major manufacturing project than considering the well-being of planet Earth.