This letter was published in the Santa Barbara Independent on January 7, 2020.
Dear Santa Barbara County Planning Commissioners,
We the undersigned support the Strauss Wind project and urge you to approve the project.
This project is a great opportunity to increase local renewable energy generation. Our Climate Action Plan calls for the county to, “promote the use of clean alternative energy production by encouraging development of utility scale renewable electrical generation facilities.” However, our county currently ranks near the bottom of the state’s 58 counties in terms of renewable energy, and the county is not on track to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals. By approving this project, an updated version of the Lompoc Wind Energy Project approved 10 years ago on the exact same site, we have a chance to get back on track in building our clean energy future.
The Strauss Wind Energy Project would generate enough clean, renewable energy to power nearly 45,000 homes each year with less than half of the turbines previously approved by the county under the Lompoc Project. During the approximately 30-year life of the Strauss Project, it would prevent more than 6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from polluting the environment — the equivalent of eliminating nearly 16 billion vehicle miles or the burning of almost 15 million gallons of oil. It would also provide hundreds of jobs and infuse tens of millions of tax dollars into our county.
Climate action is urgent. Last year the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report written by 91 scientists from 40 countries based on more than 6,000 scientific studies that says we need to transition off of fossil fuels as soon as possible or face a global climate crisis by 2040. Here in California we face rising seas, raging fires, droughts, and challenges to our agricultural sector. The Thomas Fire alone destroyed 1,063 structures and caused over $2.2 billion in damages. The ensuing debris flows in Montecito resulted in 23 fatalities and destroyed hundreds of homes. According to the IPCC report, failure to rein in emissions “poses large risks for natural and human systems … some risks may be long-lasting and irreversible, such as the loss of some ecosystems.” A subsequent report this year finds that, “as many as one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction, posing a dire threat to ecosystems that people all over the world depend on for their survival.”
The Strauss Project would help the state come closer to meeting its 100 percent clean energy goal. This is particularly important in Santa Barbara County where we are on the end of both PG&E’s grid in the north and SCE’s grid in the south. Having power generation in our region will make our grid more resilient and reliable, reducing our reliance on far flung energy sources transmitted long distances along vulnerable wires. The Strauss Wind Energy Project would more than double Santa Barbara County’s current renewable production and would demonstrate a strong commitment by the county to assist the state in meeting its renewable energy goals in an efficient, sustainable and environmentally sound way.
We support mitigating impacts to the maximum extent possible as specified in the EIR. We also recognize that if our goal is to protect animal species, ecosystems and our society, we need to rapidly transition to renewable sources of energy. Our best and most immediate opportunity to do so in Santa Barbara County is to approve the Strauss Wind Project.
Thank you for your consideration.
Katie Davis, Chair, Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter
Sigrid Wright, CEO/Executive Director, Community Environmental Council
Rebeca August, Chair, Safe Energy Now! North County
Maricela Morales, Executive Director, Central Coast Alliance United for A Sustainable Economy (CAUSE)
Craig Lewis, Executive Director, Clean Coalition
Rinaldo Brutoco, President, World Business Academy
Dick Flacks & Janet Blevins, Co-Chairs, Santa Barbara County Action Network (SBCAN)
Vijaya Jammalamadaka, President, League of Women Voters, Santa Barbara
Lisa Thornhill, President, League of Women Voters, Santa Maria Valley
Luke J. Swetland, President & CEO, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
Eder Gaona-Macedo, MPA, Executive Director, Future Leaders of America, Inc.
Brigitta Van Der Raay, Chair, Climate Reality, Santa Barbara Chapter
Grace Feldmann & Emiliano Campobello, Co-Chairs, S.B. Standing Rock Coalition
Catherine Gautier, PhD, Climate Scientist, Professor Emerita, UCSB, Member, Fearless Grandmother Society Santa Barbara
Jennifer Manning, Chapter Chair, UCSB CALPIRG
Gordon Hensley, Executive Director, San Luis Obispo Coastkeeper, Environment in the Public Interest
Tara Rizzi, Hon. AIASB, Executive Director, AIA Santa Barbara, A Chapter of the American Institute of Architects
Grant Marcus, Dir. NSR, Nurses for Social Responsibility
Rev. Tamara Casanova Suzuki, Minister, Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Goleta
Michal Lynch, Lead, Women’s March Santa Barbara
Robert Perry, Founding Member, The Climate Mobilization Santa Barbara County
David Krieger, President, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
Rocio Lozano, Executive Director, MERITO: Multicultural Education for Resources Issues Threatening Oceans
Barbara Wishingrad, Executive Director, Sweetwater Collaborative
David Fortson, Chief Executive Officer, Loacom
Nancy Black, President, Mercury Press International
NB: This letter was sent to the Planning Commission on November 18, 2019, prior to approval of the project, which now faces three appeals.