Building that new factory may not be so easy.
Following its IPO last November, Rivian announced in December plans to build a brand new $5 billion factory in the state of Georgia as part of a major expansion plan. Demand for the Rivian R1T and R1S is high and the current plant in Normal, Illinois can't keep pace. The new Georgia facility will supposedly create around 7,500 new jobs in a rural part of the state, roughly 45 miles outside of Atlanta, which could certainly use them. But not everyone is pleased.
In January, we reported about a group of local residents who had more questions than answers as to what the new factory on a 2,000-acre property will entail. Critical topics like zoning, the size and scale of the plant, and the amount of noise it'll create remain unanswered.
And now, according to The Atlanta-Constitution Journal, those residents have hired the services of an environmental attorney to investigate possible legal challenges to blocking the state government from approving construction. They've raised over $150,000 for its legal fund for the long-shot bid to halt production or, at the very least, seek some critical changes, ahead of this spring's scheduled construction start date.
Ironically, major national environmental groups like the Sierra Club and state bodies like the Georgia Wildlife Federation are not siding with the residents. They like EVs and want to see the plant's approval and construction happen. One major topic of concern residents have is how the facility will affect the local water supply. In their legal bid, they cited a report stating that "A plant of this size would negatively impact the groundwater recharge area by converting millions of square feet into impervious surfaces."
Residents should not be worried about this, says the local development authority. That body is referring to two separate reports claiming the water supply will not suffer. "It's ridiculous for people to think we're going to put contaminated water in the ground," said the executive director of the Walton County Development Authority. Rivian, he added, "must and will follow any local, state and federal laws regarding any type of waste."
But several residents still aren't buying it. "I'm no one special. We're just the little people," said one local woman. "Please, Rivian, go away from here. We don't want you."
It remains to be seen whether the bid holds any water, but this could result in a delay for Rivian at a time when it needs to be producing as much as it can.