House passes bill to block Cemex mine

A bill aimed at blocking development of the proposed Cemex sand and gravel mine in Canyon Country passed the US House of Representatives Thursday.

“This tremendous achievement is the result of more than two decades of tireless work to develop a practicable solution that would take the Soledad Canyon Mine out of commission and lift this burden off of the backs of my constituents,” said the bill’s sponsor, Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, in a statement Thursday.

The matter now goes to the US Senate, where Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., has also introduced legislation aimed at resolving the Cemex mine issue. 

The city of Santa Clarita has been battling the Cemex mine for about 15 years.

The bills from Boxer and McKeon would direct the Bureau of Land Management to cancel mining contracts held by Cemex.

Those contracts, which were awarded to Cemex in 1990, allow the firm to extract 56 million tons of sand and gravel from hundreds of acres near the intersection of Soledad Canyon Road and Shadow Pines Boulevard in Canyon Country.

The bills would also prohibit future mining on the site.

The BLM would then be required to sell federal land near Victorville and use the proceeds from the sale to compensate Cemex for its contracts.

A new wrinkle in the Cemex legislation this time around is that Boxer’s bill was worded in such a way that it would receive a “zero score,” meaning it will not cost the government anything. McKeon’s bill, which is a companion to Boxer’s, is worded the same way.

The city of Santa Clarita and Cemex have indicated support for the arrangement, while the BLM has resisted the proposal.

“Cemex fully supports this legislation and is optimistic of its passage in the Senate,” Cemex spokeswoman Sara Engdahl said Thursday. 

“We will continue to keep the lines of communication open with the city of Santa Clarita as we move closer to a resolution.”

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