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Cannabis Manufacturer Pays $1.3M to Settle Air Quality Violations

It was operating without a permit and without the necessary emissions control systems in place.

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iStock/Liudi Hara

Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) announced that Central Coast Agriculture (CCA) has agreed to pay $1.3 million to settle penalties associated with air quality notices of violations (NOVs) that were issued to CCA’s cannabis manufacturing facility in Lompoc.

Between 2020 and 2023, APCD staff documented multiple air quality violations. Based on records and documents provided by CCA, operation of the facility during this period resulted in significant ozone precursor emissions.

“This effort has taken the APCD many years to resolve. We are thankful to have reached a settlement, and more importantly worked with CCA to reach compliance with air quality regulations for their manufacturing operations,” states Aeron Arlin Genet, Executive Director for the APCD. “The magnitude of this settlement reflects the significance of the violations and the amount of emissions over 3 years. The Clean Air Fund portion of this settlement will be used on other projects throughout the Lompoc community to reduce emissions and improve air quality. Securing compliance with the APCD rules and regulations has been our agency’s goal all along.”

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The APCD has primary responsibility for control of air pollution from all stationary sources, including post-harvest cannabis operations. In October 2020, APCD inspectors conducted a surveillance inspection and issued a NOV to CCA for installing and operating a cannabis manufacturing facility in Lompoc without an APCD permit and without the necessary emissions control systems in place, in violation of APCD rules. It took almost three years for CCA to submit a complete permit application to implement emissions controls and bring their facility into compliance.

During this time, the facility received additional NOVs and emitted significant amounts of regional ozone precursor pollutants. A final APCD permit for CCA’s manufacturing facility was issued on November 29, 2023. Following the successful implementation of the emissions control requirements of their APCD permit, CCA’s potential to emit will be reduced by 90% as compared to their peak operations.

Under the final permit, CCA will implement a solvent recapture process and install emissions control equipment. Once installed, operational, and tested to confirm compliance, the emissions control equipment and strategies employed by CCA will set a new standard for Best Available Control Technology for the cannabis manufacturing industry in the state of California.

The recapture and control systems are designed to ensure more than 97% of the solvent used in the process is captured and reused in the system rather than being emitted to the atmosphere. These NOVs were resolved through the APCD’s Mutual Settlement Program, which offers the opportunity to settle penalties associated with NOVs by reaching an agreement with the APCD to avoid litigation. Of the $1.3 million settlement, $325,000 will be set aside for APCD’s Clean Air Fund to be put towards other projects that benefit air quality in the Lompoc community where the facility is located and emissions occurred.

A portion of the remaining settlement will be used towards a multi-year commitment by the APCD to expand surveillance of post-harvest cannabis operations countywide, and the balance of the settlement amount will be put into the APCD’s fund balance for future use.

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