While the issue of establishing a cement mining operation for Cemex in Soledad Canyon may seem like a long-ago subject, the struggle to maintain Soledad Canyon in its natural state is long from over. Recently, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer introduced legislation that would preserve the canyon, provide an amicable solution for all parties involved and resolve the issue. But this effort still needs the public’s support.
“This is extremely important to our community,” said Mayor Marsha McLean. “While we’ve had great cooperation with Cemex, they are anxious to get this issue settled and we are too. The way to do it is get this legislation introduced.
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“Whenever our valley has had to face adversity, we have always come together,” she continued. This is one more chance for our residents to express their opinions and support.”
The City has provided a letter from Mayor McLean and Councilmember Laurene Weste to help with bringing the public up to speed on where Cemex stands. The complete text follows:
When the federal government, through the Bureau of Land Management, made the decision to allow mining on the east side of Santa Clarita, it was 1990 – more than two decades ago — and the decision was made without taking into consideration the many impacts a large scale mining project would have on the community.
Today, the Canyon Country community is the largest and most populated of Santa Clarita’s four communities, and Santa Clarita is Los Angeles’ fourth largest city. The proposal for a large mining project yards away from homes, schools and businesses just doesn’t make sense. But to prevent large scale mining and all of the negative impacts, federal legislation is required and right now, support for that legislation is needed from Santa Clarita Valley residents.
For more than a decade, the City of Santa Clarita has disputed the federally-approved, large-scale mining project in the Canyon Country area of Soledad Canyon.
Although the City of Santa Clarita is the property owner for the proposed mining site, the mineral rights (owned by the Bureau of Land Management) have been granted to the international Cemex Corporation. After years of dispute, the City and Cemex have agreed to work together to provide an alternative to large-scale mining that would also compensate Cemex for giving up their mining rights in Soledad Canyon. But that agreement also comes with a timeline that is nearing its end.
To prevent large-scale mining by Cemex and provide compensation for the loss of their valid federal mining contracts, Senate Bill 759, the Soledad Canyon High Desert, California Public Lands Conservation Management Act of 2011, has been introduced in Congress by Senator Barbara Boxer.
The proposed bill would require the Secretary of the Interior to cancel Cemex’s right to mine in Soledad Canyon, while ensuring that Cemex is fairly compensated for its loss. As compensation, the legislation would provide a means for Cemex to recover the fair market value of its mining contracts. The bill would offer for sale federal land near Victorville, California, which has been identified by the Bureau of Land Management for disposal.
The proceeds from the land sales near Victorville would be deposited into a special account in the U.S. Treasury. Based on the provisions of Senate Bill 759, the Secretary of the Interior would then use funds from this account to fairly compensate Cemex.
Once Cemex is compensated, additional revenue in this account would be used to acquire environmentally-important lands in California. Important to taxpayers is the caveat that the bill assures that no funds from the federal budget would be spent to resolve the mining dispute.
If any of this sounds familiar, that’s because it is. This is not the first attempt to pass federal legislation to prevent large-scale mining in Soledad Canyon. However, it may be the last.
The Cemex Corporation has told the City that if the bill does not pass this year, they are ready to seek permits and start mining in Soledad Canyon.
The City has created a special website for more information about the proposal and the bill that will prevent large-scale mining in Soledad Canyon. There is a “frequently asked questions” page, as well as a complete copy of Senate Bill 759 for you to review. (Go to: www.santa-clarita.com/soledadmining)
Right now, your help is needed to make sure no large-scale mining occurs in our community. Your show support of Senate Bill 759 would be greatly appreciated. Here are a few ways you can lend your support:
Visit the City of Santa Clarita’s website at:
and click on the ‘SB 759” link to show your support. The City will forward these to all of the correct parties involved.
Email Senator Barbara Boxer’s office and let her know you support Senate Bill 759 and appreciate her support for our community in this matter. The Senator’s email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also mail a letter to Senator Boxer at:
Office of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Email Senator Dianne Feinstein and let her know you support Senate Bill 759 and would appreciate her supporting it as well.
Senator Feinstein’s email address is:
Email the Bureau of Land Management and let them know you support Senate Bill 759 and would appreciate the Director’s support as well. His name is Bob Abbey and his email address is: Director@blm.gov.
Email Congressman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon and let him know you support Senate Bill 759 and would appreciate his support as well. Send your email to Congressman McKeon to: http://mckeon.house.gov/contact.shtml