Cemex Soledad Canyon appeal to take 2 more years

There will be no mining done by Cemex in Soledad Canyon, California, for at least another two years as the mining firm works its way through a lengthy process of appealing last year’s decision by the Bureau of Land Management to cancel all its contracts.

Cemex appealed the BLM’s decision in September to the Interior Board of Land Appeals, which issues final decisions for the Department of the Interior.

That appeal process, on average, takes about two and a half years to arrive at a conclusion, Michael Murphy, Santa Clarita’s intergovernmental relations manager, said this week. “That’s what the norm has been,” he said.

With a half year’s worth of discussion already on the books, participants are not anticipating a Board of Land Appeals decision for another two years.

A spokeswoman for Cemex said Thursday there were no updates on the situation to be reported.

The BLM awarded Cemex two contracts in 1990 to extract 56 million tons of sand and gravel from hundreds of acres in Soledad Canyon in Canyon Country.

The bureau announced its decision to pull all of Cemex’s mining permits last March after the mining company informed Santa Clarita it would begin work to update those permits needed to start digging.

The extensive mining proposed for the site would have far-reaching effects over the entire Santa Clarita Valley, city officials have said, citing anticipated air pollution and traffic increases on freeways.

Mine opponents aren’t satisfied with two years of downtime; efforts are also under way to ensure the mine never opens.
Assemblyman Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, introduced a bill six weeks ago that would re-open the permitting process for the long-debated Cemex sand and gravel mine in Canyon Country.

Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, described his Assembly Bill 1986 as “a ‘Plan B’ that would allow us to make the case with state regulators on why this mega-mine doesn’t work in our community.”

Re-opening the permit process would open the door for public comment on Cemex as if the application was being heard for the very first time.  The bill was scheduled to be read Monday by the state’s Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife, but Wilk pulled it back for some last-minute tweaking.

He and his staff are now fine-tuning the bill to ensure it “does what it was intended to do,” Wilk spokesman Curtis Raulinaitis said Thursday. “The author’s decision to pull the bill is to allow all stakeholders to make sure going forward that it accomplishes our intended purpose,” Raulinaitis said. In its initial form, the bill “could have unintended consequences.”

The re-drafted bill is expected to be heard sometime this month.

The Santa Clara Valley Signal

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