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SCVNews.com | Group Wants Council to Seek McKeon’s Support to Block Mine (Video) | 05-21-2012
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Advocacy group disputes congressman's claim that Boxer legislation violates House ban on earmarks
| Monday, May 21, 2012

[SAFE Inc.] – The nonprofit Safe Action for the Environment Inc. is calling on the community to show up at City Hall Tuesday night in support of a resolution that could help save Soledad Canyon from the proposed Cemex mine, by asking Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, to rejoin the effort to stop the mine.

“Time is running out,” said SAFE President Andrew Fried. “Long-term mining along the entire Soledad Canyon corridor may be imminent. Participation at Tuesday evening’s City Council meeting to support the City’s resolution from as many people as possible is extremely important.”

The resolution going before the council Tuesday states, in part, that the council formally requests McKeon to join the city, Cemex and other legislative leaders “in developing, introducing, and having enacted into law during the 112th Congress, bipartisan legislation that accomplishes the three key goals of the City of Santa Clarita and Cemex, and does not violate the House of Representatives rule relating to earmarks.”

Those three key goals are to cancel the mining contracts, “withdraw from further mineral entry” the areas that are the subject of those contracts, and to fairly compensate Cemex for the value of the contracts it holds that would enable the company to mine 56 million tons of sand and gravel from the site in Soledad Canyon, just outside Santa Clarita’s eastern border. The proposed mine would generate an estimated 1,164 truck trips per day on local roads and State Route 14, and is expected to have significant negative impacts on local air quality.

McKeon has refused to act on behalf of Santa Clarita Valley residents this year regarding the Cemex issue because, he says, any legislation duplicating his previous efforts would be deemed a prohibited earmark under House rules. The congressman has introduced legislation on the issue during four previous congressional sessions, but has not done so this year.

Instead, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., has introduced a bill in the Senate, S.759, which would cancel the Cemex mining contracts and compensate the company through the sale of federal property near Victorville that’s slated to be disposed of anyway. The Boxer bill has not been deemed to be an earmark in the Senate, where it awaits a committee hearing.

“This should not be construed as a partisan issue,” Fried said. “Nevertheless, Congressman McKeon has chosen party politics rather than helping to protect our community. This resolution gives people the opportunity through the City to request that Congressman McKeon stop putting partisan politics before the needs of his constituents.”

The City Council meeting begins 6 p.m. at Santa Clarita City Hall, 23920 Valencia Blvd.

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