Tuesday, November 25, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Tesla has state walking a tightrope

elias column sig

By
From page A8 | August 16, 2014 |

California government now walks a tightrope, put in that position by one of the latest in the large corps of successful high-tech startups this state has spawned over the past few decades.

Make a misstep in one direction and the state stands to lose a huge battery plant and 6,500 jobs. Stumble the other way and the state’s most important environmental law could be discredited, tainted by favoritism.

This quandary features Tesla Motors, whose luxury electric cars are made in the former General Motors and Toyota automotive assembly plant in the East Bay city of Fremont. Tesla parlayed a good idea, a derelict factory and a variety of state and federal government subsidies into huge success. Now it’s playing off the state that nurtured it against places like Texas, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico.

The car company, whose advanced batteries allow its Model S to go farther on a single charge than any other commercially sold electric vehicle, plans a new “giga-factory” to make even better lithium-ion batteries. Company owner Elon Musk will likely decide sometime this fall where to locate his 10-million-square-foot facility.

California wants that plant, likely to be built in or near Stockton, within easy reach of the Fremont factory. But state environmental laws could help send it elsewhere, if only because the required environmental impact reports and other evaluations likely can’t be done in Musk’s time frame.

But Gov. Jerry Brown and state legislators are tired of high-profile companies that start here, then move factories and headquarters out of state. Texas, with its lack of a state income tax and its offers of cheap land, relatively low-wage labor and promises of eight years or more of tax exemptions, has made the most of such inroads. Most recently, it lured Toyota’s national offices from Torrance to the Dallas area.

So negotiations are underway to give Tesla major exemptions from the landmark California Environmental Quality Act, which has often been used to stymie or delay large construction projects.

Among ideas proposed are limits on environmental reviews prior to construction and letting Tesla mitigate any damage from the plant after it’s open. It was probably no coincidence that on the day word of these possible concessions reached Wall Street, Tesla stock jumped about 30 points.

These kinds of concessions are not completely unique, but they have rarely been put into operation. National Football League stadiums proposed for the City of Industry and downtown Los Angeles – the NFL won’t go for both – won similar concessions from the Legislature earlier in this decade.

But such sweetheart deals for large projects upon which elected officials place a high premium anger both environmental groups and some local politicians.

Back in 2011, when concessions were made to the Anschutz Entertainment Group for the proposed Farmers Field in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills Councilman John Mirisch questioned in an online essay whether “we should be granting CEQA exceptions . . . for individual projects.”

“There is no doubt CEQA is sometimes abused,” he said, noting that businesses sometimes employ it to stifle expansion by competitors. “Yet for all its flaws, CEQA serves a fundamental . . . purpose, which is to specify the impacts of a project . . . and to allow policy-makers to require mitigations.”

No one knows what mitigations either Tesla or an NFL stadium might have to make, or how expensive they could be. But once a project is built, it’s a lot easier for the owners to try to fight off added expenses and inconveniences.

Meanwhile, the Sierra Club called a large-scale exemption for Tesla “simply unacceptable.”

But legislators have been known to favor politically potent industries before, just this year passing tax benefits for military airplane makers in an effort to keep high-paying jobs here, with vastly expanded tax breaks for movie and TV producers coming soon.

It’s also true that Brown called in his 2010 campaign for “reform” of CEQA, but hasn’t gotten anything much through the Legislature.

All of which sets up the tightrope walk: Brown and the Democrats who dominate the Legislature can’t afford to lose the support of environmentalists. They don’t want to make CEQA a laughingstock. They also want to keep the ultra-green Tesla, whose cars produce no smog, operating in California. So they’ll compromise, and they still may not keep all of Tesla’s jobs and money here.

Thomas Elias is a California author. Reach him at tdelias@aol.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 4 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • JagAugust 16, 2014 - 9:06 am

    HMMM what a dilemma, democrats want their cake and want to eat it to. You have made these strict environmental laws now live by them and continue watch business leave California; maybe the typical drone voter will catch in in a few years

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JimboAugust 16, 2014 - 12:59 pm

    So in other words, Tesla's don't pollute at the car, they prefer to do all their polluting at the factory. Yet another car company not concerned with the environment after all.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. PracticalAugust 16, 2014 - 2:08 pm

    Jag, you nailed it. Jimbo, it's just the opposite. Tesla's manufacturing process is extremely clean. The cars themselves produce about the same carbon emissions as a Honda Accord. What concerns me is that Tesla made over $13 million last year selling their Cap & Trade credits. About $35,000 credit per vehicle manufactured.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Dale AmonAugust 16, 2014 - 1:40 pm

    Well... they could level the playing field by repealing the damned thing. (I belong to Yet Another Company that is leaving for Texas... and good riddance to California.)

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Soroptimists seek award applicants

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

 
Science comes to libraries – for all to see

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

Nichols plans free family concert in Napa

By Glen Faison | From Page: A7

 
Library schedules soap-making program

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

Church’s holiday soiree on Vacaville calendar

By Glen Faison | From Page: A7

 
Vacaville PD seeks VIPS program volunteers

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

 
 
Volunteers help Mission Solano pack for food giveaway

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: | Gallery

 
Fairfield police log: Nov. 23, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

Fairfield police log: Nov. 22, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

 
Suisun City police log: Nov. 23, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

Suisun City police log: Nov. 22, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

 
.

US / World

Incumbent Democrats lose in 2 close California Assembly races

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
VA fires Phoenix hospital director

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Iraqi troops take 2 towns from Islamic State group

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Iran nuclear talks stumble, extended until July

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Brown names assistant US attorney to high court

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Driver fatigue may have caused California crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 1 Comment | Gallery

Israel resumes razing homes to punish attackers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
GOP wisdom shifts on immigration

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 8 Comments | Gallery

Under pressure, Hagel steps down as Pentagon chief

By Maureen Fissolo | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
No charges in Ferguson case; chaos fills streets

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 80 Comments | Gallery

.

Opinion

 
Senate staff cuts reduce transparency

By Dan Walters | From Page: A8

.

Living

Community Calendar: Nov. 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
.

Entertainment

‘Wizard of Oz’ Cowardly Lion costume fetches $3M

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Miller puts own spin on longtime ‘GH’ character

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

‘Today’ looks to rebound from tough week

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Review: Turmoil helps AC/DC shine on new album

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Guitarist: Leon Russell band’s instruments stolen

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Sting tries to help his ailing Broadway musical

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

In wake of Spotify pullout, music industry debates streaming

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Bill Weir’s new CNN series to begin in 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

TVGrid Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
.

Sports

Forsett leads Ravens past Saints, 34-27

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Bills rout Jets 38-3 in rescheduled game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Even top NFL teams have taken steps back

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Aldon Smith helps lead in 49ers’ 3rd straight win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Rod Streater returns to practice for Raiders

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Taylor apologizes, won’t appeal NBA suspension

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Johnson, Martinez, Smoltz on Hall of Fame ballot

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
No. 1 Kentucky gives Kansas a Top 25 tumble

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

LeBron on Cavaliers’ issues: “I stink”

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Police: Manziel’s entourage attacked fan at hotel

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Giants set record with $388,606 postseason shares

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Longtime NHL coach, executive Pat Quinn dies at 71

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Pablo Sandoval reaches multiyear deal with Red Sox

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
San Francisco turning to groundwater for its taps

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

South Carolina the new No. 1 in AP women’s hoops

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
.

Business

Budweiser gives Clydesdales holiday pink slip

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4, 3 Comments

 
Redbox raising DVD rental rates by 25 percent

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

New FDA rules will put calorie counts on menus

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Unidentified country likely behind spying software

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Honda admits failing to report deaths, injuries

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
United Technologies CEO retires, succeeded by CFO

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Nike extends contract with USOC through 2020

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
High-end home sales surge in Southern California

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Rose is Rose Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Pickles Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sally Forth Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Get Fuzzy Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Bridge Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sudoku Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Cryptoquote Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Garfield Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Wizard of Id Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Word Sleuth Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Crossword Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Baby Blues Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

For Better or Worse Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Blondie Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
B.C. Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo Nov 25

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4