I write during the week we celebrate Earth Day and in solidarity with all the youth in the country who are demanding a better stewardship from the people currently in power for the environment they will inherit. We are at the same old crossroads again — county officials eyeing what they assume will be large tax revenue dollars overtaking their job to protect our health and the environment in which we live.
The Santa Barbara County supervisors have completely let the younger generation down by giving no consideration to the environment in granting more than 2,500 licenses for cannabis growing with no discussion of greenhouse gases emitted, the amount of energy required, water, or any environmental considerations at all, from what I have read.
I would have asked these questions and voiced these concerns whatever the new crop was. It is the sheer amount of new licenses that will have a huge impact on this county and will forever change Santa Barbara. The fact that it happens to be cannabis is not the issue for me.
My concerns are the following, and are not being addressed in our local press or at the county levels.
(1) Pesticide use — Misinformation has been circulated that the “hoops” will not use pesticides. That is completely false. Including indoor growing, 93 percent of California weed tested over pesticide limits in 2018. There are chemicals, there are fungicides, and there are pesticides, without question. And at a volume of 2,500-plus new licenses, how does this impact the health of our county? And if no one knows, then this process must be stopped until we do know.
(2) Carbon dioxide — One single cannabis cigarette produces three pounds of carbon dioxide. One kilogram of final product is associated with 4,600 kg of carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere. We will be growing more cannabis here than any other county. Who has looked at the ultimate impact to air quality? How does it affect our goals to reduce, instead of adding to, greenhouse gas emissions in the county? What will even one “hoop” house generate in carbon dioxide, much less over 2,500 cultivators?
(3) Energy — Estimates indicate that indoor cannabis production accounts for 3 percent of our electricity use in California (equivalent to more than a million California homes).
Is there an impact report on how this new energy load will affect our current (overloaded) system?
(4) Water — We are out of the drought now, but what happens when we are not? How does 2,500-plus licenses for a new water-intensive crop impact our environment? (Even if “hoops” need less water, I would ask how much water does one “hoop” house need)?
This is a completely different argument then any one seems to be having in this town. (“Hoops” are ugly, the smell, the impact on tourism, the county’s shady antics in approving all these licenses, or the fact that Oregon just had to throw out 80 percent of its weed since the market was over-saturated.) So I am hoping to get us back on track and look at the most important issues impacting our younger generation with these discussions on granting massive new licenses.
This land is not here for a few people to reap the benefit of some quick tax dollars. It is for us, on this Earth Day week, to be the stewards for sustainable growth.
I will be reaching out to environmental nonprofits in the county to start discussing some of these issues, and I encourage you to read some of the data at the links below. This could help us all have a more focused and informed discussion with the county on what are our concerns, and hopefully after reading this letter and doing their own research, people can address some of these important issues.
The fact that they have not been previously addressed, and no one is offering any kind of impact report, should halt this process until the citizens of this county have the information they need regarding the air they are breathing, and the amount of energy and greenhouse gas emissions they are inheriting with these licenses.