U.S. Rep. Steve Knight introduced legislation Friday that would ensure that a Cemex-style aggregate mine can never exist in Soledad Canyon.
The Soledad Canyon Consistency Act, would withdraw the mineral rights for land in the eastern portion of the Santa Clarita Valley, meaning that companies would be prevented from mining there in the future. For decades, members of the community and the Santa Clarita City Council worked to thwart Cemex’s plan to mine in the in the area, which they argue would have disastrous consequences for residents. Rep. Knight and other leaders in this longstanding fight believe this bill will eliminate the possibility of similar battles in the future.
“We applaud Congressman Knight’s unwavering commitment toward bringing the Soledad Canyon mining issue to completion,” said Santa Clarita Mayor Bob Kellar. “If, as we expect, the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to terminate its contracts with Cemex is upheld, this legislation represents the final action necessary to prevent large scale mining in Soledad Canyon.”
Prior to writing this legislation, Knight, R-Palmdale, worked with local leaders and federal agencies to prevent the mine from breaking ground. This resulted in a decision last August by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to cancel Cemex’s mining contracts in Soledad Canyon. Cemex is currently appealing the ruling, and last week Rep. Knight and other legislators in the area sent a letter to the BLM urging the agency to expedite the appeals process. Meanwhile, opponents of the mine are hopeful that they will soon be victorious.
“We thank Congressman Knight for his continued efforts to protect our community,” said Santa Councilmember Laurene Weste, who has been a leader on the Cemex fight since its beginning. “Enactment of this legislation will preclude the Bureau of Land Management from being able to enter into new mining contracts for the site and facilitate the eventual use of the property as a northern gateway entry into the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.”
While previous legislative efforts to prevent mining in the Santa Clarita Valley have failed, Rep. Knight is confident that his bill has a strong chance of being signed into law. The Soledad Canyon Consistency Act was introduced in the House of Representatives on Friday and currently awaits assignment to committee. The legislation is cosponsored by Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-28), and Rep. Brad Sherman (CA-30).
“Preventing Cemex from breaking ground on this mine has been my top priority since before I took office,” said Knight. “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.”