February 18, 2006

Los Angeles Council Votes for Waste-to-Energy Policy

Councilmember Greig Smith's loud and popular campaign against the continuance of Sunshine Canyon landfill contract in his district and his bold R.E.N.E.W. LA proposal is finally getting traction in Los Angeles politics.

Within the current week (February 12-18, 2006) the L.A. Times has reported L.A. Could Divert Trash From Dump, that the L.A. Council is considering diverting a substantial portion of waste to other landfills. Instead of renewing the decades-old current Sunshine landfill contract for another 5 years ($29 million/year), waste would be shipped to Riverside County (for an additional $15 million) and/or the San Joaquim Valley (for an additional $30 million). While the current landfill has capacity for another 15 years, Smith contends that environmental justice to his district obligates the Council to enact an alternative that would equalize processing waste between all the districts of Los Angeles.

According to this release, the Council has taken a serious step toward accepting a policy of developing a waste-to-energy plant solution to Los Angeles' landfill problem.


Council Postpones Vote on Trash Contract
From Los Angeles Times Staff and Wire Reports

The City Council on Friday postponed its vote on renewing a five-year contract to dump trash at the Sunshine Canyon Landfill above Granada Hills.

The council has until the end of the month to decide the issue and is looking at alternatives that involve taking some or all the city's trash to two distant landfills, at a cost increase of between about $4 million and $30 million each year.

Also on Friday, the council voted to embrace a policy of eventually using high-tech trash-to-energy plants to get rid of the city's trash

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Sterling said...

What a nightmare!!
The article says "at a cost increase of between about $4 million and $30 million each year".

You mean there is a possibility that LA County will spend $150 million EXTRA in waste disposal just to distribute it more evenly.... what if they took that $150m and used it as seed money for the waste to energy program...

C. Scott Miller said...

You are right - the point is that the cost of "environmental justice" (aka implementing innovative waste-to-energy plans like R.E.N.E.W. LA) is far cheaper and more to the longterm benefit of greater L.A. than the necessary consequence of not renewing the Sunshine Canyon landfill contract with BFI.

So why not just renew the contract and "save the extra expense"? Its a short-term vs. long-term issue. The SF Valley voters of L.A. have been digging their heels in about their being the dumping ground (literally and figuratively) for decades. The operators, BFI and Waste Management, have not supported waste-to-energy alternatives even though they stand to profit greatly from their implementation. Greig Smith, to his credit on behalf of his constituency, is bringing this issue to a head NOW.

The logjam is actually in Sacramento. Southern California is clearly in favor of plans to credit its municipalities for diverting landfill to innovative waste conversion technologies (CTs). But there is an astounding lack of leadership among our so-called environmentally motivated legislators. Even So. CA. members on the Assembly Natural Resources Committee have turned a deaf ear to reasoned appeal for diversion credit. They have empowered a landfill and recyclers lobby, Californians Against Waste, to do the negotiating for them. I think this is unethical. The question is "Why?".

The costs to the State of ignoring the looming "landfill peak" crisis, not to mention the missed opportunity of leading the CT paradigm shift is typlified by the conundrum faced by the L.A. City Council.

I believe this scenario will eventually be played out throughout the nation as municipalities begin to face these same cost/benefit alternatives.

Anonymous said...

The City of LA should consider giving us a call if they're really serious. We could save 40-50% of their landfill space through C&D recyling and biomass fuel production. Iowa is a leader in renewable energy for a reason, and it isn't just ethanol.

C. Scott Miller said...

If you are "Elphaba" I assume you are green like most of the other commenters here.

The RFP for the projects will be looking for 75-85% conversion of what is not already being recycled to landfills - includng C&D. Mandatory requirement - "zero" emissions.

If you have a great technology, I would like to review it here.