Musk Confronts or Ignores Regulators Who Block Innovation

(p. A1) He’s become one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs by reinventing industries from electric cars to rockets. Along the way, he’s also rewritten the rules of engagement with U.S. regulators.

Elon Musk has emerged a winner in a series of run-ins with a range of regulatory agencies that have watched as he sidestepped rules or ignored enforcement attempts. He has overmatched an alphabet-soup of agencies that oversee financial markets and safety in the workplace, on highways and in space flight.

Most chief executives try to avoid regulators—or at least stay in their good graces. Many accused of overstepping have paid fines or agreed to make improvements.

Mr. Musk, revered by some investors for his iconoclastic approach, has taken a different tack on his way to becoming one of the richest men in the world, not letting regulations hinder his goals to revolutionize transportation with Tesla Inc.’s electric cars or colonize Mars using SpaceX rockets.

Federal agencies say he’s breaking the rules and endangering people. Mr. Musk (p. A10) says they’re holding back progress.

. . .

The Federal Aviation Administration criticized SpaceX for launching a rocket in December [2020] without a proper FAA license. Mr. Musk ridiculed the FAA space division in a tweet as “fundamentally broken.”

. . .

When asked to comment on the specifics of this article, Mr. Musk replied with a “poop” emoji. Asked to elaborate, Mr. Musk declined to provide any input on his interactions with federal agencies or his view toward regulation. In a tweet Tuesday, Mr. Musk said he agrees with regulators “99.9% of the time.” He added that when they disagree, it “is almost always due to new technologies that past regulations didn’t anticipate.”

. . .

After the FAA delayed a January [2021] test launch, Mr. Musk accused the agency of holding back progress and argued that its regulations were outdated. “Their rules are meant for a handful of expendable launches per year from a few government facilities,” he tweeted on Jan. 28. “Under those rules, humanity will never get to Mars.”

. . .

The National Labor Relations Board ruled in March that Tesla had violated U.S. labor law by hindering unionization and ordered Mr. Musk to delete a tweet discouraging employees from unionizing. Tesla this month appealed the decision, saying the NLRB’s ruling was “contrary to law.”

Mr. Musk’s tweet remains online. The NLRB declined to comment.

For the full story, see:

Ben Foldy, Rebecca Elliott, Susan Pulliam. “Elon Musk’s War With Regulators.” The Wall Street Journal (Thursday, April 29, 2021): A1 & A10.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed years, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date April 28, 2021, and has the title “Elon Musk’s War on Regulators.”)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.