In September, millions of young people around the world marched to urge leaders to respond to the urgency of the global climate crisis. Here in Santa Barbara, thousands of my fellow students participated in the Climate Strike to demand action both globally and locally here in the County.
The message was clear — you need to do more.
Just two months later, we have the opportunity to do more, by supporting a local renewable energy project here in Santa Barbara County. The Strauss Wind Energy Project will go before the County Planning Commission on November 20th starting at 9 a.m. in Santa Barbara. This is exactly the type of renewable energy project that young people across the globe are begging leaders to support.
A decade ago, our county made ambitious commitments to fight climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions with the adoption of the Energy and Climate Action Plan and the unanimous approval of the Lompoc Wind Energy Project.
The Lompoc Wind Energy Project was never built, and very little action has been taken to address the significant impacts of climate change — devastation like the Thomas Fire, which we have witnessed firsthand. Climate change is moving at a much faster rate than our leaders, and the time to take action is now. We have waited long enough, and we have missed too many opportunities to help halt climate change. County officials need to approve the Strauss Wind Energy Project here in our community now.
The Strauss Wind Energy Project (located near Lompoc) would create the renewable energy facilities outlined in the County’s plan. This project is a drastically improved version of the Lompoc Wind Energy Project that was approved ten years ago on the same site. Strauss has incorporated nearly two decades of studies and data into the careful planning and re-design of the project. For example, Strauss is committed to planting ten oak trees for every one cut down and has reduced the number of trees that need to be removed by 90 percent from the original Lompoc design. The Planning Commission should strongly consider the work Strauss has done to minimize environmental impacts in addition to the clean energy the project is designed to generate.
Imagine if our county could generate enough clean local energy to power nearly 45,000 homes from a single renewable energy project? That is how much energy the Strauss Wind Project is designed to produce, with fewer than half of the turbines previously approved by the County under the original Lompoc rendition.
Over the project’s 30-year life, it would prevent 6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from polluting the environment. That is the equivalent of eliminating nearly 16 billion vehicle miles or the burning of almost 15 million gallons of oil. As someone who has yet to see 30 years, I would love to see a local project have such a positive impact in my lifetime.
Unfortunately, many of the people making decisions won’t be around to bear the burden as consequences of climate change become increasingly dire. Remember, the inaction of our leaders today will become the responsibility of the leaders of tomorrow. Young people like me cannot just wait for the world to change – we are tired of waiting and we demand action now!
The modern environmental movement has its roots in Santa Barbara, and we should continue to uphold that legacy by becoming a national leader in the production of local renewable energy and taking swift action to combat climate change.
I urge the County Planning Commission to approve the Strauss Wind Energy Project on November 20 and step into the new, clean local energy future we all deserve.