Congressman Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, introduced a bill Friday that would withdraw the mineral rights in Soledad Canyon, effectively preventing Cemex or any other company from mining there in the future.
“Preventing Cemex from breaking ground on this mine has been my top priority since before I took office,” said Knight, in a statement Friday.
“We have strong momentum on this issue, and I am confident that this bill would grant consistency, safety, and peace of mind to the people of the Santa Clarita Valley.”
The Bureau of Land Management 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.
Since then, the city of Santa Clarita has locked horns with the multi-national mining firm to keep any shovels from sinking in Soledad Canyon.
City officials have long maintained that the mine would overload Highway 14 with truck traffic, choke the Santa Clarita Valley’s air with particulates, and generally degrade quality of life locally.
Recent years, though, have seen the city and Cemex partner to find a legislative solution to the dispute.
The years-long saga seemed near an end last August when the BLM announced it was canceling Cemex’s contracts since the firm had not made progress in fulfilling their terms.
While local officials and representatives at the state and federal level cheered the decision, questions remained.
Chief among those was whether the BLM could turn around and re-issue mining contracts to another firm, or even award them to Cemex again at some point in the future.
Knight’s bill, according to his office, would make sure that doesn’t happen.
Cemex has also appealed the BLM’s decision to cancel its contracts.
That appeal now rests in the hands of the Interior Board of Land Appeals, which issues final decisions for the Department of the Interior – the department that includes the BLM.
Knight’s office said the congressman remains confident Cemex’s appeal will be unsuccessful and that his new bill simply takes the matter a step further by making sure no one can mine in Soledad Canyon at any point in the future.
Knight sent a letter to Department of the Interior Deputy Secretary Michael Connor about two weeks ago requesting a final judgment on the Cemex mine be delivered as soon as possible.This marks the first bill
Knight has introduced on Cemex, but it’s far from the first time federal representatives have sought to resolve the lengthy dispute through legislation.
Now-retired Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, carried a number of bills, as did Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.
Most of those bills went nowhere.
McKeon did push a bill through the House of Representatives in December 2014, but the Senate adjourned that year without taking up the bill.