The construction of the Tesla factory in Brandenburg is already well advanced – the approval process, however, not yet. The country leader of the environmental protection party ÖDP, Thomas Loeb, explains why he will present his objections to the construction in the public hearing tomorrow, although he considers the process to be a PR show, the outcome of which has already been determined.
ntv.de: What do you think is the biggest problem with the factory, what is the main objection you will raise tomorrow?
Thomas Loeb: Our core topics concern the difficult, irreversible interventions in nature. Especially in the water balance. Tesla doesn't just want to take large amounts of water for production from the groundwater, which endangers the drinking water supply of 70,000 people. For the construction, which is already in full swing, Tesla used concrete piles to intervene in the groundwater in this water protection area. It is, however, completely unclear whether and when we will be able to speak orally about our objections in the assembly in the coming days. I expect this to be a big PR show for Tesla above all. The outcome of the entire approval process is already a foregone conclusion for the authorities involved and the state government.
Then why are you going?
There is a lot more to this than the permits and this factory. All of our environmental and civil rights, all of the achievements of the past 50 years are at stake. The Tesla case is already having a noticeable impact on construction projects in other places. Entrepreneurs from Brandenburg to the Black Forest can rely on the judgment that Tesla allows construction to start before the environmental impact assessment is completed.
The Tesla factory is a test case for Brandenburg and for all of Germany. The federal and state governments want to show that major industrial projects are still feasible here – quickly and unbureaucratically. Is this also a test case for you to prevent the development you just described?
However, Tesla builds in Grünheide at its own risk and must dismantle everything at its own expense if approval is not granted.
That's a joke. The damage can already now not be repaired. In addition, I don't think Tesla or Elon Musk can actually be held liable for it. In the end, only the German subsidiary will be liable with its capital, which corresponds to the price of one and a half Tesla cars. Then Brandenburg would sit on the ruins.
Apparently you have no confidence in the Brandenburg authorities and the approval process. Which means and ways are you betting on?
It is not primarily a question of preventing the construction, but of holding those who want to pull it off in this way to account. At the request of our party colleague Manuela Ripa, the EU Commission confirmed that the procedure violated EU law. We can also sue for other legal violations by the state of Brandenburg, the municipality of Grünheide and Teslas. We are not in China, where people are simply put out of the way for major projects, or in the USA, where the president is sending the military to an Indian reservation to push through a pipeline construction.
As an environmentalist, you are fighting against an electric car plant, of all places. Are you not preventing the ecological traffic turnaround?
No, Tesla is not a partner for a truly sustainable transport transition. Above all, we need to expand local public transport and promote cycling – for example the use of cargo bikes. We also have to reduce commuting through more decentralized workplaces. We also need electric cars, but not huge SUVs like the ones Tesla builds, with all the environmental problems that they bring with them, for example due to the high consumption of resources and unexplained disposal.
Max Borowski spoke to Thomas Loeb