The Scholl Canyon landfill, in the hills above Eagle Rock, is the site of a proposed biogas power plant. | Photo by Doc Searls/Flickr Creative Commons

Eagle Rock hangs in the balance as Glendale officials grapple with Scholl Canyon

2021 Editions More News September

By T.A. Hendrickson

The future of Glendale’s Scholl Canyon landfill, located in the hills above Eagle Rock, remains in question following a meeting last week in which Glendale officials split on the path forward.

At the meeting, the Glendale Water and Power (GWP) Commission voted to proceed with a GWP plan to build a biogas plant at Scholl Canyon to convert methane from decaying garbage into electrical power.

At the same meeting, the Glendale Sustainability Commission rejected the proposal to build a biogas plant at Scholl Canyon. 

The commissions’ votes are advisory only, meant to inform upcoming decisions on the project, first by Glendale’s Planning Commission and then by the Glendale City Council, which will have the ultimate say over the project. The Planning Commission meeting is scheduled for October 6. It will probably be at least year-end before a final decision is made.

In Northeast Los Angeles, residents, activists and elected officials have opposed the idea of a biogas plant at Scholl Canyon ever since it was first proposed by GWP in 2017. In a nutshell, they have pointed out that Eagle Rock would get the pollution, traffic and other environmental harm and risk from the plant – while Glendale would get the power and the revenue from that power. That lopsided outcome is all the more galling to Eagle Rock given that the landfill site is accessed solely via Figueroa Street in Eagle Rock.

Wildfire risk from the construction and operation of the proposed biogas plant is a big concern. Hans Johnson, the president of the East Area Progressive Democrats said in a statement to the Boulevard Sentinel that EADP opposes “the unsafe, unnecessary, and unpopular scheme to put a gas plant in the known burn zone atop Glendale’s polluting dump at Scholl Canyon,” adding that any Glendale official who ignores the risk “is whistling past the wildfire danger and on the wrong side of the community.”

Another major concern voiced by opponents is that the final environmental impact report on the proposal for a biogas plant failed to adequately investigate alternatives for dealing with the methane at Scholl Canyon. In a statement to the Sentinel, Hilda Solis, the L.A. county supervisor for Northeast L.A., said she stood with Eagle Rock in opposition to a biogas plant because the proposal suffered from “lapses in transparency,” “undeniable risks” and “under-analyzed” alternatives.

An alternative of interest to the Sustainability Commission and environmental activists calls for purifying the landfill methane so that it can be injected into a nearby SoCal Gas pipeline. One member of the GWP Commission, Joel Peterson, also said that this option should be studied more before a final decision is made to build a biogas plant but his recommendation was shot down by other members of the GWP Commission.

Kevin de León, the City Councilmember for Eagle Rock, has also weighed in on the latest developments on Scholl Canyon. De León’s input is key, because the power of L.A. city officials to influence and negotiate with Glendale city government is Eagle Rock’s best hope for a satisfactory outcome.

In his statement to the Sentinel, De León said that he agreed that methane from Scholl Canyon should be processed into “the cleanest energy source possible,” but that it was unclear from the final environmental impact report whether building a biogas plant at Scholl Canyon would achieve that goal. He said he would ask the City of Glendale to ensure that processing methane in a biogas plant would be cleaner than the current process of flaring the landfill’s methane.

Some of the environmentalists who spoke up at the meeting last week echoed De León’s concern. They noted that flaring could be a better environmental option than building a biogas plant because new flaring techniques are cleaner than previous ones.

Methane is the unavoidable byproduct of decades of garbage dumping at Scholl Canyon. There is no ideal way to remove it or use it. GWP wants a solution that meets its energy and economic goals. Activists want a solution that does the least harm to the environment, particularly in Eagle Rock, which is in harm’s way through no fault of its own. 

The task now at hand is for political leaders in both Glendale and L.A. is to find the best way forward in a bad situation.


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11 thoughts on “Eagle Rock hangs in the balance as Glendale officials grapple with Scholl Canyon

  1. This is a predicament… Why won’t Glendale share the the biogas-generated electricity with Eagle Rock? Have they offered any financials on the capital cost of the plant and the cost pkh for power consumers? Does it make good sense economically?

  2. Good article, thank you. My understanding is that comments were strongly against building the plant on the dump site. So is Eagle Rock. We fought and stopped it’s plan to expand, and now this. Glad to see Supervisor Solis expressing opposition to it also. Since the gas pipeline to Grayson still works, why is anyone in Glendale trying to build a gas plant at Scholl Canyon that exposes residents to even more pollution, just as its dump has for 60 years? Enough is enough and the entire landfill is supposed to close in 2028.

  3. I am one of the neighbors hurt by pollution from this dump. Air contaminants make my lungs even more vulnerable to pathogens like COVID. The kids I teach and the seniors I care about are NOT expendable. To make the air pollution worse and add the danger of wildfire from a gas plant are just plain wrong.

  4. What is also falling is that Eagle Rock residents are not allowed to deposit at the dump because it is Glendale’s! It is a great opportunity for Councilman De Leon and Supervisor Solis to show leadership and not allow this to occur as described.

    1. Are you sure? I have taken things to be dumped there, and no one asked me where I lived. They just wanted the dump fee….

  5. This dump should be closed already! This is ridiculous! Stop wasting time and people’s lives with a power plant on top of all that garbage. Tell the truth about the money Glendale makes from solid waste. Pollution is a shameful business that should not be tolerated. Look the children with asthma and their parents with COPD. Please close this dump and stop the profiting over innocent lives.

  6. Thanks for the well written article. I live in Glendale on the other side of the hill from Eagle Rock. The proposed power plant is a polluter and should not be place in high risk fire zone. The EIR doesn’t include adequate mitigations for fire and NO evacuation plan. Please tell the planning commission and city council of Glendale to VOTE NO!

  7. Funny all of this ppl cry about Pollution but you guys ok with big Tec taking their factories to other countries and make pollution there . Karma is getting ya all .
    Democrats shutting down gas line in US but they let Russian to build one toward Germany . Double standard is real .

  8. As the parent of a two-year-old who frequents the playgrounds and parks close to this location, I am very concerned about the placement of a biogas plant at the Scholl Canyon dump and the accompanying health/safety implications as well as wildfire risks.

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