Will Elon Musk Deliver on His Promise of an “Ecological Paradise” at the Tesla Factory in Austin?

Will Elon Musk Deliver on His Promise of an “Ecological Paradise” at the Tesla Factory in Austin? Main Photo

9 May 2022


The massive facility sits along two miles of the Colorado River. Environmentalists want a say in how the development might affect the waterway.

An osprey flaps its way upstream, a freshly caught fish in its talons, as we paddle down a calm stretch of the Lower Colorado River on a bright April evening. The sound of rippling water blends with the steady hum of traffic. Motorists speeding over the river on Texas Highway 130, just east of us, may not even notice the Colorado. We’re surrounded by a fast-growing patch of urban sprawl near the Austin airport, about eight miles east of downtown. New housing developments, shops, and office parks are popping up at a rapid clip, but you wouldn’t know it from the perspective of a canoe. This shallow portion of the river is brimming with waterfowl and countless other riparian creatures. It’s an urban wild, of course, so behind egrets pecking at fish, discarded tires emerge from the overgrown riverfront. Nearby, a fisherman casts from shore, while kids splash in the olive-tinted water. With the river reflecting the early evening sun, we round a slight bend. There, in the distance, set back along the Colorado’s banks, rises Tesla’s Gigafactory Texas, its 4.3 million square feet covering an area the size of 75 football fields, all enclosed in austere concrete walls.

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