Cannabis Grower Faces Penalties for ‘Serious’ Air Pollution – Diesel Generators at Two Operations West of Buellton Spewed Toxic Exhaust for up to 343 Days, Authorities Say

The county Air Pollution Control District reports that 16 diesel generators spewed toxic exhaust for months on end at two Central Coast Agriculture cannabis operations west of Buellton. Here, the generators are shown supplying power to refrigerated shipping containers at 8701 Santa Rosa Road. Flash-frozen cannabis is stored in 52 containers there before it is transported to Lompoc for manufacturing

John De Friel, the owner and CEO of Central Coast Agriculture, illegally ran highly polluting diesel generators as a primary source of power at both of his cannabis operations on Santa Rosa Road west of Buellton, beginning as far back as February 2020, the county Air Pollution Control District has found.

Fourteen diesel generators were powering lights, a greenhouse, and dozens of refrigerated shipping containers, many of them for months on end, at De Friel’s 30-acre Central Coast outdoor cannabis operation at 8701 Santa Rosa, district records show. One of the generators ran for 343 days. The property is less than half a mile upwind from a residential neighborhood.

At 5645 Santa Rosa, where Central Coast is growing cannabis on 24 acres, two diesel generators were operating illegally; one of them was in use for more than 301 days, powering the fans and irrigation pumps at a greenhouse.

“These are serious violations with over 65 tons of excess emissions,” Aeron Arlin Genet, the district’s air pollution control officer, told the district board at a May 20 hearing. A list of the violations was made public in the agenda packet.

Buellton Mayor Holly Sierra, a boardmember, said she was “really disappointed” to hear the news.

“This is one of the reasons why we have so many concerns about cannabis production right outside our city limits,” she said. “We have no control over it, and now we’re not only getting the odors, but now we have diesel excess.”


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