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Tesla faces charges of violating environmental regulations by U.S. and German officials

The automaker says it is cooperating with regulators and doesn’t expect any negative impact on its business

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Photo (c) Steve Proehl - Getty Images
In a filing with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Tesla defended itself against accusations of violating environmental regulations. 

Regulators in the U.S. have accused the electric automaker of failing to prove that it’s complying with the federal emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants. The EPA has specifically requested more information about how the company handles the “surface coating” process for vehicles at its paint facility in Fremont, California. 

In 2019, Tesla employees told CNBC that the Fremont plant had sometimes conducted paint retouching in an open-air tent without full automation. Employees said they were exposed to extreme cold and smoke-filled air in 2018, a time when wildfires were an issue. 

Meanwhile, German officials have accused the company of failing to take back and properly dispose of old customer batteries. In Germany, there’s a law requiring automakers selling electric cars to take back batteries and dispose of them in an environmentally sustainable way.

In the Wednesday filing, Tesla said it “has responded to all information requests from the EPA and refutes the allegations.” The company said it does not expect any “material adverse impact” on its business to stem from its talks with the EPA on this matter.

In response to the accusations from German officials, Tesla said it has “continued to take back battery packs.” It added that the issue was “primarily relating to administrative requirements.” 

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