Elon Musk’s Boring Company Faces New Environmental Violations in Texas

The tunneling transportation company continues to face regulatory hurdles in Bastrop County.

The Boring Company, a tunneling venture founded by Elon Musk, has lofty goals—the company aims to revolutionize traffic and cities by moving cars underground and into specialized transportation tunnels. But Musk’s plans to revolutionize transportation have hit roadblocks in farm-filled Bastrop County, Texas, where the company has been repeatedly cited for environmental violations.

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Large circular sign reading "The Boring Company" at the top
The Boring Company testsits tunnel-digging machinery in Bastrop. Matthew Busch for The Washington Post via Getty Images

In the past few years, Musk has moved a number of his companies to Texas to expand more rapidly and on larger scales. The billionaire relocated Tesla’s headquarters to Austin in 2021, while his rocket company SpaceX has a Starbase facility in Boca Chica. Although the Boring Company was initially founded in California, its headquarters are now in Pflugerville, with development sites in Bastrop, where the company plans to build a subdivision for its workers and is testing out a new tunnel-digging machine. Known as Prufrock, it is designed to surpass conventional boring machinery with a medium-term goal of exceeding seven miles per day.

SEE ALSO: Elon Musk’s Boring Company Is Not Groundbreaking Tech, Says Tunnel Expert

The Boring Company could be a boon for Bastrop, but according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), Musk’s company has repeatedly failed to comply with environmental regulations. New violations filed by the agency in August allege it has been discharging concrete truck washout water inappropriately while failing to minimize the discharge of pollutants. The Boring Company also received notices for its lack of stabilization measures and its release of stormwater associated with industrial activities.

These issues are having a “direct impact” on the people of Bastrop County, according to Chap Ambrose, a local software engineer. “There are farmers in the area who have ponds and their surface water is affected by this stormwater control, absolutely,” he told Observer. “The pH level of the water is important because they’re using it on plants.”

Ambrose, 39, has followed the development of both the Boring Company and SpaceX, which has also introduced development sites in the county, in videos and images posted to his Twitter. In addition to chronicling the Boring Company’s activities, he has submitted complaints to TCEQ over concerns that its dirt excavations could lead to water contamination. “They will continue to be delayed and continue to have stronger opposition until they realize the impact of what they’re doing and take responsibility to do things the right way,” he said. The Boring Company did not respond to requests for comment.

Local pushback in Bastrop County

These are far from the first warnings cited against Musk’s activities in Bastrop County. During its tenure in the county, Boring has received several TCEQ violations over issues like pollution control systems and design erosion controls. Musk’s tunneling company has additionally attracted the attention of the Texas Department of Transportation for an unpermitted driveway and received a notice from Bastrop County over unauthorized sewage tanks. In March, a public meeting was convened to address the Boring Company’s permit request to discharge treated wastewater into the nearby Colorado River. “Seeing it repeatedly over time, from all these different sources, it’s becoming more frustrating,” said Ambrose.

Despite local opposition, Bastrop and its residents are still open to Musk’s innovative aims for their county. The Boring Company, which successfully created a Las Vegas tunnel stretching 1.7 miles, was initially borne out of Musk’s frustration with Los Angeles traffic. “For five years I said, if somebody could just do a tunneling company, we can solve traffic and we can also have very-high-speed transport between cities,” said the billionaire during Tesla’s 2022 shareholder meeting. With unlimited tunnel roads, the decrease in need for above-ground cars and parking would allow for streets to be converted into parks, added Musk, who recently shared that permit approvals have been the biggest impediment to the company’s progress.

“There is a lot of optimism still,” said Ambrose, noting the economic growth and job opportunities the Boring Company is bringing to Bastrop. But Musk’s work “needs to be done well and right and legally, so that we can all be safe here,” he said. “We’re not just tools and background pieces—you moved to a community and you’re part of it whether you want it or not because the people who live here are part of it.”

Elon Musk’s Boring Company Faces New Environmental Violations in Texas