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California Lawmakers Consider Incentives Package For Tesla Motors

A Tesla automobile sits outside the California factory, in this undated photo.
Paul Sakuma / AP
A Tesla automobile sits outside the California factory, in this undated photo.

California lawmakers are considering a package of economic incentives and environmental regulatory waivers to convince Tesla Motors to build a new electric car battery plant in the state.

Democratic and Republican legislative leaders are participating in the talks with Tesla along with Gov. Jerry Brown’s office.

Republican Sen. Ted Gaines says environmental review timelines could be shortened to help an environmentally friendly company expand in the state.

“This is an opportunity for green jobs that the environmental community ought to be very excited about. It’s an opportunity for job creation, which I’m very excited about," Gaines said.

Some environmentalists oppose the proposal to allow Tesla to start building without a California Environmental Quality Act study.

Kathryn Phillips with the California Sierra Club says trying to fix problems as they arise can create new problems.

“That’s why you have CEQA review," Phillips said. "You have the document that analyzes all the environmental impacts. That’s why you try to get that done all up front.”

But Gaines says the incentives would only expedite the process.

"We’re not talking about eliminating it," he said. "We’re just talking about speeding it up so that the project can move forward.”

The governor’s office has also reportedly offered Tesla $500 million in tax relief to build the battery plant in California.