Mon, Jul

Another Chance to Stop the Glendale Biogas Project

ACCORDING TO LIZ - Head’s up!  The agenda for Tuesday’s meeting of the Glendale City Council has changed. The purchase of equipment for the proposed Biogas Plant has been replaced by a bigger picture vote on when to close the Scholl Canyon dump. You can download the agenda here

Hopefully, a majority of the Councilmembers will oppose this purchase. 

Because once taxpayer money is spent it will be MUCH more difficult for Glendale to walk back from continuing down the path towards this irresponsible use of taxpayer dollars on a plan that will cost far more than any possible return. 

Yes, Glendale must address the methane issuing from the rotting garbage – a crisis of their own making – but spending $50 million or so and putting people at further risk in the event of wildfires or earthquakes may not be the best choice their City Council has. 

Nearly 90% of those who spoke to the issue at last year’s marathon meeting of November 30th that went into the wee hours of  December 1st, strongly opposed approval of the biogas plant. Even so, three of the five Council members voted to proceed although their own Planning Commission had unanimously nixed the project earlier. 

And that vote probably played into the fact that biogas plant supporter Vrej Agajanian was booted out and environmental advocates Dan Brotman and Elen Asatryan were the top vote-getters in this June’s election. 

Hopefully the newly-configured board will see the value in Dan Brotman’s plea last year to pursue better alternatives for handling methane emitted by the dump, and will put the kibosh on next Tuesday’s vote to throw more money into moving the biogas facility forward. 

Given that methane emissions will start subsiding after 2030, is investing in an expensive biogas facility a responsible use of taxpayer money? 

Committing to a large investment in the project at this time is not in the best interest of the people of Glendale, especially since the Council will not have had the opportunity to discuss, obtain further input from constituents, and vote on Elen Asatryan motion, recently passed by the Council, to reconsider last November’s approval of the biogas plant. 

For residents of Glendale and Northeast Los Angeles already affected by the dump’s pollution and methane flaring, all of whom would be significantly impacted by any major disaster triggered at or because of the dump, the following objections raised in the past still stand. 

  • Building a gas power plant and infrastructure in a high fire-risk area on a known fault on top of a dump which is already leaching toxins into groundwater is not the wisest move, and seems to be partially intended to justify extending yet again the life of the landfill (it was supposed to have been closed over 40 years ago) to recoup the capital cost of the project and continuing to allow Glendale to benefit from the tip fees from other cities using the dump. 
  • With methane emissions reducing, the proposed plant might only be able to function at the promised capacity for six to eight years thus turning this project into another expensive boondoggle for the taxpayers of Glendale. 
  • Plans to burn natural gas in California moving forward is in direct opposition to a state mandate requiring 100 percent power from non-carbon-based sources by 2045.  
  • After 61 years of dumping at Scholl Canyon, Glendale MUST stop endangering the health and quality of life of its own residents and those in adjacent communities. 
  • Potential damage from the project which is in a wildfire-prone and earthquake-risk zone would disproportionately affect not only local Glendale citizens but also the residents of northeast Los Angeles who derive no benefit from it. 
  • The City of Glendale’s liability even if its insurance covered some of the costs, would be off the charts in any catastrophic situation precipitated or aggravated by this plan. 

Furthermore the dump, aka the Scholl Canyon Landfill, is long past its originally scheduled closure date of 1978 and does not meet the 1998 Environmental Protection Agency requirement for an “impermeable barrier” separating toxic compounds that build up in and travel through massive trash piles, even in landfills designated for household waste, from the water table. 

Sometimes government is given a do-over and has the opportunity to get things right – let’s hope this is one of them. 

Glendale needs to suspend forever this bogus biogas boondoggle and spend its money on remediation of the dump for the immediate health and safety of the residents of Scholl Canyon and neighboring communities, and return the canyon to the use for which it was intended: healthful recreation.  

Send in your comment in to the Glendale City Council members before September 13th:

[email protected]

[email protected]

[email protected]

[email protected]

[email protected] 

You can also attend the meeting in the Council Chambers at 613 E. Broadway, 2nd Floor

Glendale, CA 91206 or watch it here.  

Public comments will be taken when that item comes up for discussion; those watching remotely can call in using a number that will be posted on the screen. 

Previous articles on this issue can be viewed here and here.


(Liz Amsden is a contributor to CityWatch and an activist from Northeast Los Angeles with opinions on much of what goes on in our lives. She has written extensively on the City's budget and services as well as her many other interests and passions. In her real life she works on budgets for film and television where fiction can rarely be as strange as the truth of living in today's world.)