Don’t Trash the Gaviota Coast!
The single biggest threat to the Gaviota Coast today is the County’s trash processing plant proposed at the Tajiguas Landfill.
The County approved the project last year but relied on an incorrect boundary line for the coastal zone, and now must revise and reconsider the project. The project’s purpose was to extend the landfill’s life by 12 years, but with the delays, the landfill’s life may be extended eight years or less. As time passes, the project’s benefits decrease while costs rise.
The Tajiguas Resource Recovery Project (TRRP) involves $120M of trash processing machines housed in two Costco-sized buildings on top of the Tajiguas Landfill. All solid waste from the South Coast (except Carpinteria), Solvang, Buellton and the Cuyama Valley will be trucked to the TRRP for processing. Residential trash rates will need to increase by at least 40% to pay for the TRRP; some estimate the rate increases will be much higher.
To overcome the coastal zone problem, the County is proposing to expand trash processing beyond the Tajiguas Landfill and onto the adjacent Baron Ranch. Baron Ranch was to serve as a buffer for the Tajiguas Landfill, not as an expansion zone. While the County’s vague proposal leaves many unanswered questions, the expansion onto Baron Ranch represents a significant threat to the Gaviota Coast.
TRRP is entirely incompatible with the National Seashore-worthy Gaviota Coast. The TRRP will substantially increase the amount of traffic on the Gaviota Coast, will squander the potential to reduce greenhouse gases through carbon farming (a practice referenced in the Paris Agreement that sequesters atmospheric carbon in the soil), and will extend operations at the Landfill for 20 more years. The County pledged to close the landfill by 2015 but now proposes to extend operations until 2036.
In proposing the TRRP, the County rejected viable alternatives that would have less cost, fewer impacts, and move towards Zero Waste goals that many other local governments have adopted throughout the Country. We can do better.
The Board of Supervisors will consider (and likely approve) the revised project on November 14 at the Santa Maria hearing room.
(click above for their letter)
- Paul Relis, Former State of California Board Member, CalRecycle Lecturer in Waste Management, UC Santa Barbara Vice Chair, Bioenergy Association of California
- Gary Petersen, Former State of California Board Member, CalRecycle Former Vice President Waste Management, Inc. Former Director of Environmental Affairs, Recycle America
- William O’Toole, President, EcoNomics Inc.
- Nick Lapis, Director of Advocacy, Californians Against Waste
- Matt Cotton, Principal, Integrated Waste Management Consulting, LLC
(click above for our letter)
Please email your elected officials of the SB County Board of Supervisors
to vote NO on TRRP Expansion
And please join GCC at the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors hearing room at 10 am next Tuesday, 11/14
Endangered red-legged frog, recently found at Tajiguas
(Bixby Ranch grading, Gaviota Coast aerial photos by Mike Lunsford)
On Thursday November 9, 2017, the Coastal Commission (CCC) voted unanimously to adopt a Cease and Desist Order finding extensive land use violations at the Bixby Ranch and a companion Restoration Order that mandated habitat restoration to compensate for the impacts of the violations, imposition of fines, and the donation of a 36 acre parcel to the County to expand the Jalama County Park. The Orders were negotiated between Commission staff and the manager of Bixby Ranch.Read more
The County is trying to approve another expansion of the Tajiguas Landfill onto Baron Ranch on the Gaviota Coast. Gaviota Coast Conservancy has vowed to oppose this project to protect the Gaviota Coast from 20 more years (!) of industrial activity at the Tajiguas Landfill. The $110M Tajiguas Resource Recovery Project (or TRRP) includes a “dirty materials recovery facility” (or dirty MRF) to separate recyclables from trash and an anaerobic digester facility (ADF) to process organic wastes and extract methane that is burned to generate electricity.
Earlier this year, China banned the acceptance of contaminated recycled materials, closing the only market for the recovered recyclable materials from the dirty MRF, and rendering one $50M part of the project useless.
Far better is to enhance our source separation programs so more recyclables go into the blue bins, where they stay clean and are actually recycled. We don’t need the dirty MRF.
Carbon farming has emerged as a way to put carbon back into the soil, using high-quality compost. We don’t need the $60M anaerobic digester; we need more composting, which coincidentally can be done at a fraction of the cost. We can use education and programs to keep food scraps clean and put them in with the green yard waste bins, allowing this valuable resource to be used to make compost.
The TRRP is so expensive it has contributed to rate increases over 17% this year in Goleta and unincorporated Santa Barbara County, with comparable annual increases projected for at least the next 2-3 years, and probably longer. Rates will rise higher once the additional costs of the County’s coastal zone blunder are known. The $110M price tag is expected to rise to approximately $150M, triggering another steep rate increase for South Coast residents. The Tajiguas Landfill is nearly full, and it is time to find a better solution. The alternative begins at home with enhanced source separation, which can achieve better results at less expense than the TRRP.
In late October, a group of five solid waste experts active in the State sent a letter to the Santa Barbara City Council with their collective opinion that the TRRP was not appropriate and urging the participating jurisdictions to consider and develop alternatives.
After this year’s spring rains, a population of Threatened California red-legged frogs was re-discovered at the Tajiguas Landfill. The TRRP introduces night lighting to the site for the first time (frogs are attracted to the light) and the TRRP revisions expand the areas of nighttime vehicle operations, including over the frogs’ dispersal corridors. The TRRP revisions expand the landfill operations onto Baron Ranch and into federally designated Critical Habitat for the red-legged frog. As proposed, the revised TRRP will lead to the unnecessary death of red-legged frogs on the Gaviota Coast.
GCC opposes the TRRP as an unnecessary expansion of the Tajiguas Landfill onto Baron Ranch and extension of its life by another 20 years after the Supervisors pledged to close it by 2015. The myriad environmental impacts and zoning issues simply underscore the conclusion that the Tajiguas Landfill does not belong on the Gaviota Coast. We expect that the Board of Supervisors will hold a hearing on the revised TRRP on November 14.
You can help by telling the Board of Supervisors to reject the revised TRRP. Stay tuned for more information!