During a public session Monday night, a state-controlled Rivian committee met in Monroe to present the first wave of environmental regulations to be imposed on the upcoming $5 billion electric vehicle megafactory.
It has been announced that grading at the site will be announced in the coming weeks before phased work begins at the Stanton Springs North site between Rutledge and Social Circle.
Morgan County Planning director Chuck Jarrell, who sits on the Rivian committee, says he is encouraged by the first round of ongoing environmental protection efforts and believes the end result will go beyond state and federal requirements and implement some of Morgan County’s conditions .
“From what I’ve been told, Rivian will agree to some of our requests — probably not all — but it should exceed state and federal regulations,” Jarrell said after Monday’s presentation.
According to the Joint Development Authority, the four-county board overseeing the Rivian development, which is planned for nearly 2,000 acres in Morgan and Walton counties, will comply with all state and federal regulations and will follow the direction of the U.S. Army Corps of Search Engineers . The company also promises to go beyond what is necessary.
“Consistent with its environmentally conscious mission, Rivian’s site designs demonstrate some of the ways the company intends to minimize the environmental impact of the facility’s footprint: Over half of the cultivated area will remain unpaved – the majority of the site will be a permeable, vegetative surface that absorbs rainwater, creates Habitat for wildlife and stores carbon. Rivian’s design intentionally places buildings and impervious infrastructure on elevated ground where possible to avoid impacting wetlands,” said a joint statement from the Georgia Department of Economic Development and the JDA.
“Rivian intends to retain as much of the existing tree population as possible. Rainwater is collected and used on site, reducing the need for traditional drinking water supplies. In line with the company’s new construction philosophy, the mature site will incorporate best practices to limit lighting, stormwater runoff, water quality and noise pollution, and to preserve scenic views and natural systems.”
According to the press release, Rivian is beginning the permitting process and reviewing stages for environmental considerations at the state and federal levels.
“Today, the Georgia Department of Economic Development, in cooperation with the Jasper County, Morgan County, Newton County and Walton County (JDA) Joint Development Authority, took the next steps to ensure environmental protection is at the forefront of development at the Stanton site Springs North Rivian by submitting a permit application to the US Army Corps of Engineers under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The application seeks confirmation from the Corps, in consultation with other environmental agencies, that project design has avoided and minimized impacts on wetlands and streams to the extent possible and will fully mitigate unavoidable impacts. The Corps will solicit public comments on the application and will evaluate the project in accordance with its standard public interest assessment,” a release said.
According to the JDA, any assessment to be undertaken will not disturb existing wetlands, and each of the “site development steps is standard in any major public or private construction process.”
“In building their home in Georgia, Rivian’s business ethos prioritizes the natural environment in every aspect of their planning process,” said GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson.
“The state and JDA continue to work closely with this American start-up to carefully develop Rivian’s state-of-the-art, environmentally conscious manufacturing facility in Stanton Springs North. Stream and wetland permitting processes and site classification will demonstrate that the state is meeting its obligations to follow established site classification codes and to protect local groundwater quality. Not only are Rivian focused on becoming part of the fabric of their new community, they also want to build an attractive operation that adds value to the local business ecosystem, minimizes environmental impact and supports conservation efforts.”
“The Joint Development Authority is pleased to work with Rivian and the State of Georgia to advance this project with the filing of this Section 404 permit application,” said Jerry Silvio, JDA Chair. “Protecting the local groundwater quality is a top priority for all of us. It is in our best interests to be responsible stewards of our natural resources and local environment so that generations to come can continue to enjoy a high quality of life with high-paying employment opportunities in our community.”
According to the press release, “The Section 404 permit application has been filed with the US Army Corps of Engineers under 33 USC 1344 (§ 404) and is expected to take six to nine months to process. The State of Georgia has agreed to ensure that the project meets locally required standards for water quality, groundwater recharge and runoff, and all local environmental codes. These requirements are built into the overarching agreement between the State of Georgia, the JDA, and Rivian. In addition, the preservation of buffers, wildlife habitats and outdoor recreation around the site is a high priority.”
According to the press release, “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the lead agency that will review the permit application in cooperation with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources-Environmental Protection Division, Georgia Department of Natural Resources-Wildlife Resources Division, Georgia Historic Preservation Division, of the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.”
According to JDA, ongoing committee meetings will continue to gather and provide feedback as development progresses.
“Grading for areas outside of the protected streams and wetlands is expected to begin in late summer. Once available, applications will be made available on the Georgia Procurement Registry’s website at www.i20jda.com and www.georgia.org/rivian,” the release reads.