California may ease some of its decades-old environmental mandates for potential developments in an effort to get electric-vehicle maker Tesla Motors to build its gigafactory in the Golden State. There is a certain irony in that, but given that the $5-billion factory could bring 6,500 green jobs to the state, it's not surprising.
State legislators and Tesla representatives are in talks about easing some portions of the California Environment Quality Act (CEQA) for the sake of expedience, the Los Angeles Times reports, citing state Sen. Ted Gaines (R-Rocklin). Additionally, the state may give tax breaks worth about a half-billion dollars to Palo Alto-based Tesla, whose current vehicle factory is in nearby Fremont. Tesla spokeswoman Liz Jarvis-Shean, in an e-mail to AutoblogGreen, would only say that California is "in the running" for the gigafactory site, though declined to comment further on negotiations. Not everyone would be happy with such an agreement, of course. The Sierra Club is already on record as crying foul for possible CEQA exemptions.
There's been no shortage of speculation on the possible location for the gigafactory, which should be open by 2017 and has been talked about landing in just about every southwestern US state except California. Most recently, Nevada and its Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center emerged as the proverbial lead dog, with its lower taxes, cheap real estate and lithium-mining capabilities. Texas, New Mexico and Arizona are also being considered for the giant plant.