Imagine if cumbersome regulations started preventing people from making wine in France or electronics in Japan. That’s what the drama surrounding Tesla’s “gigafactory” is like for California. Billionaire green inventor Elon Musk is holding a lottery to determine the location of his California-based electric-car company’s new lithium-ion battery plant, worth 6,500 jobs and $5 billion in investment. At the bottom of the list of possible hosts for the new plant is California itself. The timeframe for breaking ground on such a project in the Golden State, explained Musk, is simply unacceptable.
Not surprisingly, the other four states in the running are all red: Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and, of course, Texas. CNBC reports:
After a hustle by California Gov. Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown and his staff, Elon told investors this week in a conference call that “California is potentially back in the running.” But the governor had better not get his hopes too high. Musk also says the Golden State ranks as “improbable” to get the final nod.
The problem remains that California’s planning and environmental review laws remain so cumbersome that Musk says he fears it will take too long to get the plant going. He wants to break grown [sic] within months.
“What we couldn’t afford was waiting like a year or more,” Musk says. “In other states, it’s much more streamlined approach.”
Savor the irony: California’s environmental review laws are so unwieldy and burdensome that a successful green company must take its business elsewhere. The lesson seems to be that if you come up with realistic, market-based solutions to environmental problems, stay away from California.
No doubt greens will continue to pillory red states for denying climate change and praise blue states for continuing the good fight against it. Yet it remains far from clear that the blue model is actually capable of creating the right conditions for a greener future.