Tuesday, November 30, 2021     Volume: 22, Issue: 39

Santa Maria Sun / Canary

The following article was posted on March 4th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 46 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 20, Issue 46

CANARY: Environmental conundrum

By The Canary

Twisting and turning in the wind, giant 500-foot-tall wind turbines could find their way into George Bedford’s flawlessly idealic view across the hills and dales of San Miguelito Canyon near Lompoc, if the Strauss Wind Energy Project gets approved. 


The project, which was approved by the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission in November 2019, got appealed to the county Board of Supervisors because there were some folks out there—surprise, surprise!—that were none too pleased. This includes Bedford, who has been fighting against a wind farm in his fabulously remote “backyard” for more than a decade. And the California Native Plant Society, which is worried about the unique Gaviota tarplant, thinks the project doesn’t do enough to “protect” the endangered flora that call the canyon home. The Santa Barbara Audubon Society, which didn’t officially sign on to the appeal, is miffed that some federally protected golden eagles might see death by rotating blade. 

Meanwhile, the county is in a real pickle about the emissions goals it set for itself at about the same time an initial wind farm was proposed for the canyon. That wind farm made it all the way through the planning, approval, and appeals process before pulling out because it just no longer made financial sense to continue—I’m guessing the recession had a little bit to do with that. 

BayWa (the company that proposed the project) Vice President of Development Daniel Duke told the Sun that this is basically the only location in the county that could actually produce utility-scale wind energy. And he also alluded to the fact that if the permit approval process gets delayed much further, this wind farm may also not work out

Santa Barbara County needs the clean energy. Bad. If it wants to reduce its 2007 emission levels by 15 percent by 2020. Oh wait. That’s not going to happen, regardless! Instead of really doing anything to reach that target, the county instead increased emission levels to 14 percent above 2007 levels by 2016. And the only utility-scale renewable energy project that’s been approved is a solar project in the Cuyama Valley

I know this is just shock, but just bear with me—all of those oil projects that were approved in the last decade only increased the county’s emission levels. The county successfully approved oil projects with intense environmental opposition and a crazy amount of environmental impact mitigation that have since moved forward with development, but it can’t get its crap together when it comes to renewable energy. What’s up with that? 

Plus, this wind project is something that the Community Environmental Council and the Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter both support. So, no lawsuit in the future? The same can’t be said of the oil projects currently in the county’s planning hopper—again, I know, shocking

It’s tough. Birds or energy? One environmental disaster or another? Take a small nibble out of global warming or save some air space for the birds? 

Environmentalists can’t have it both ways. Development—even clean energy development—will always have an impact. So what are the sacrifices you’re willing to make? 

The canary thinks sacrifices are for the birds. Send comments to canary@santamariasun.com.

Weekly Poll
What are your Thanksgiving plans this year?

Traveling to be with family.
Staying home to feast with local family/friends (gas is too expensive/we’re not out of the pandemic yet).
Putting up my Christmas lights and tree ASAP.
Asking family to come to us this year.

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