Tesla’s plant opening party for 15,000 people faces backlash in Texas

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Tesla Inc. is facing opposition from community and environmental groups over its plan to hold a party for 15,000 people to celebrate the opening of its plant in Austin.

The company intends to offer tours of the 8 million-square-foot facility, food and two stages with live music at the invite-only event on April 7, according to plans submitted to Travis County, which encompasses Austin. Officials on Tuesday granted approval after hearing testimony from concerned neighbors.

Paul DiFiore, a representative of the Colorado River Conservancy and the Austin-based environmental-justice group PODER, cited noise, blocked roads, dust from construction and water pollution as issues.

“This grand opening is not a substitute for real community engagement,” DiFiore said. “I urge you to consider rejecting this permit and forcing Tesla to delay their celebration until they start treating the community in Eastern Travis County as more than a workforce for Elon Musk but rather as neighbors and partners.”

Musk, Tesla’s CEO, has multiple operations in the Lone Star State, recently moved there himself and relocated Tesla’s headquarters to Austin last year. In Brownsville, his SpaceX venture has helped invigorate the local economy, but also generated pushback from residents who resent the influx of wealth and surge in real estate prices that’s accompanied it.

Tesla didn’t respond to a message seeking comment.

The company hosted a grand opening celebration for its first European factory outside Berlin on Tuesday. Police removed at least one protester who was blocking a road during a demonstration against the environmental impacts of the factory.

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