U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., introduced the Soledad Canyon Settlement Act on Thursday,legislation to resolve a two decade-long mining dispute between Santa Clarita and Cemex USA.
The bill is required by the Bureau of Land Management to cancel current mining contracts in Soledad Canyon and prohibit future mining in the Santa Clarita Valley.
“That’s great news for the entire Santa Clarita Valley,” said Santa Clarita Mayor Bob Kellar, noting that Sen. Dianne Feinstein co-signed the bill.
The bill directs the BLM to cancel Cemex USA’s sand-and-gravel-mining leases at Soledad Canyon and withdraw this site from future mining.
The bill calls for the BLM to sell lands near Victorville that have already been identified for disposal and use the proceeds to compensate Cemex USA for the canceled contracts.
“I’m extremely optimistic that we’ll be able to have a favorable outcome with this bill, and we will prevent this coming from coming through and protect this community,” Kellar said.
“We’d have air quality impacts, we’d have traffic impact, we’d have water quality impacts,” he said, mentioning a few of issues associated with the Cemex mine. “And that’s why the city has taken such opposition to this mine. All you have to do is drive through Irwindale and understand where this is coming from.”
In 2007, Santa Clarita and Cemex USA announced they would seek a compromise agreement that would avoid mining in Soledad Canyon while compensating to the company for the value of the mining contracts.
“This legislation is a sensible solution that would resolve this decades-long dispute and protect the people of the Santa Clarita Valley from the pollution and traffic congestion that would result from a massive mining operation in Soledad Canyon,” Boxer said.
Boxer’s bill, which has the strong support of Santa Clarita officials, would implement a balanced solution, according to Boxer’s office.
Sen. Boxer previously introduced similar legislation in the 111th and 112th Congresses.