The city of Santa Clarita suffered another setback this week in its fight against mining, with a federal judge ruling that federal agencies did their part in approving a 56.1 million ton gravel mine in Soledad Canyon. On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Dickran Tevrizian sided with the federal Bureau of Land Management and the Interior Board of Land Appeals, in a lawsuit involving Cemex Corp.’s proposed 20-year sand and gravel mine. In the suit, the city raised claims under the National Environmental Policy and the Clean Water acts, alleging that sufficient environmental analyses were not completed for the project. Wednesday’s decision “is not a surprise at all,” said attorney Deborah Prosser, with Burke, Williams and Sorensen, the city’s legal firm. “We believe this judge … wants this mine to open.” Prosser said she expects to meet with the City Council in the next few weeks with a recommendation to take the matter up with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Los Angeles. “We’re not at all discouraged,” she said. “We have valid, strong claims.” The city owns the property located east of Highway 14, but the Department of the Interior has licensed mineral rights to Mexico-based Cemex, and the BLM has issued mining permits for the property. The city’s ownership of the property is not enough to halt the project, and it has spent the last several years involved in litigation aimed at stopping the mine. In November, the city filed an annexation application with the Local Agency Formation Commission, the Los Angeles County agency that oversees municipal boundary changes. The city hopes to annex 1,885 acres — 906 of which it owns — in Soledad Canyon, which includes the proposed mining site. Currently, the land is located in unincorporated Los Angeles County. Jurisdiction over the property would not give the city any authority over mining operations, and city officials have said the filing for annexation is simply an attempt to have city property within city jurisdiction.
This story can be found in today’s Signal Newspaper.