[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Calendar


Andrew G. Fried

Complacency is deadly.

This truism can be aptly applied to the battle to prevent Cemex USA from developing a massive sand and gravel mine in Soledad Canyon. After more than two decades, in August 2015 it appeared the battle may be drawing to a close, as the federal Bureau of Land Management canceled the contracts that would allow Cemex to develop the 56.1-million-ton mine at Santa Clarita’s eastern doorstep.

Many observers celebrated the BLM decision as the “end” of the Soledad Canyon mining dispute, even as Cemex initiated an administrative review process that could precede a lengthy legal battle to set aside the BLM decision.

At the time, we at Safe Action for the Environment Inc. (SAFE) cautioned that the devil could still be buried in the details of that review and appeal process. Here we are, nearly a year and a half later, and we’re still awaiting a decision from the Department of the Interior’s Board of Land Appeals, which could be just the first step in a protracted legal battle.

So, what’s to be done on the home front? Thankfully, Santa Clarita has a legislative representative who recognizes the dangers of complacency:

State Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Antelope Valley, has introduced legislation that would require old, pending state water appropriation permits to be subject to public review and appeal.

Wilk’s Senate Bill 146 reads, in part, “If the board has not rendered a final determination on an application for a permit to appropriate water within 25 years from the date the application was filed, the board shall issue a new notice and provide an opportunity for protests … before rendering a final determination.”

According to the legislative counsel’s digest of SB 146, if it’s approved the State Water Resources Control Board would be required to provide opportunity for public protest on water allocation permits like those needed for the Cemex mine. (The bill, it should be noted, does not identify Cemex or the Soledad Canyon mining project by name.)

In short, the bill guarantees the public a chance to be heard before final approval is granted on the state water appropriations that the mine would need to operate. While federal law pre-empts state law, state agencies have the ability to require a project to mitigate impacts on the environment and residents’ quality of life.

The Cemex mining plan requires permits from the California State Water Resources Control Board to draw 105 million gallons of water each year from the Santa Clara River. That’s approximately 322 acre-feet of water — enough to meet the needs of approximately 322 suburban households annually.

Says Wilk: “The proposed Cemex mega-mine would be one of the largest aggregate mines in the nation. The mine would devastate our air and water quality and choke the 14 freeway.

“Despite the magnitude of the project the public has been without an opportunity for input in over 25 years,” Wilk says. “SB 146 will guarantee the public has an opportunity to weigh in with regulators on this ill-conceived proposal.”

Wilk is right. The project’s impacts on air quality, traffic, the environment, residents’ quality of life and the availability of water were last evaluated more than two decades ago. Much has changed since then, not only in the communities surrounding the project site but also in terms of the science that’s used to evaluate such projects.

Assemblymen Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, and Dante Acosta, R-Santa Clarita, have joined Wilk as principal co-authors of the bill, which is awaiting a hearing before the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water. Their support is appreciated and could prove valuable as the bills winds its way through the legislative approval process.

SB 146 would give local residents an important opportunity they have not had in more than 20 years: Not just the opportunity to protest the mine, but the right to be heard in a public permitting appeals process.

On behalf of SAFE, we thank Sen. Wilk for his attention to this very important community issue — and in particular for his recognition that, even though the heat has been turned down lately on the fight to stop the Cemex mega-mine, our communities cannot afford to be complacent.

If Cemex wins its appeals at the federal level, the state water permitting process could become a very important battleground. We’ll be ready.

Andrew Fried is president of Safe Action for the Environment Inc. To find more information regarding SAFE, visit www.Safe4Environment.org.

Comment On This Story

4 Comments

  1. Doc Ellis says:

    Mexican company: We’ll provide cement for border wall
    by Patrick Gillespie and Fidel Gutierrez
    March 2, 2017:
    http://tinyurl.com/zecooqp

    So if the border wall project goes forward when will national security concerns trump property holder concerns in the Soledad Canyon?

    • SCVNews.com says:

      ?? Property owners don’t have anything to say about whether Cemex starts mining in Soledad Canyon … only the BLM does. (Unless Congress decides otherwise, which seems less and less likely.)

  2. Doc Ellis says:

    that was my point….

    BLM folks apparently moved away from supporting the CEMEX project because area folks raised enough of a fuss to discomfort the BLM folks…with a massive government project such as the proposed border wall, BLM can green-light the project on homeland security grounds…

    you made my point in different words

Leave a Comment


Related Content
Latest Stories on SCVNews.com
The intersection of Soledad Canyon Road and Bouquet Canyon Road will be under construction from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. on Friday night, September 29 and Saturday morning, September 30.
Sept. 29-30: Soledad and Bouquet Canyon Repaving
College of the Canyons launched its First-Year Promise program this fall, and to ensure the future of the FYP program, which offers full-time freshman students waived tuition and fees during their first year of study, the COC Foundation has committed to fundraising $500,000 over the next two years.
COC Foundation Launches ‘First-Year Promise’ Fundraising Campaign
Road rehab on major arterial roads and intersections in the city of Santa Clarita continues into October.
Santa Clarita Road Rehab Drives into October
The Santa Clarita Valley has five major industry clusters and the SCV Economic Development Corporation targets its economic development efforts to support and expand them.
Five Growing Industry Clusters in the Santa Clarita Valley
Gatorade made misleading “anti-water statements” while pushing the benefits of its sports drinks in a video game marketed to teenagers, according to a settlement announced Thursday by California’s attorney general.
California Fines Gatorade $300K for ‘Anti-Water’ Ad Campaign
John Gasparyan, an off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officer and Canyon Country resident, died when his motorcycle crashed in Porter Ranch around 6:50 p.m. Thursday.
LAPD Officer from Canyon Country Dead in Motorcycle Crash
A former Los Angeles County probation officer was sentenced after pleading guilty to inappropriately touching two girls at a youth camp, the county District Attorney’s Office has announced.
Ex-Probation Officer Gets 364 Days for Sexual Assault
1969 - College of the Canyons opens with first class of students in temporary quarters at Hart High School [story]
The most prestigious recognition for government assessment agencies has been awarded to the Office of the Assessor in Los Angeles County.
County Awarded Prestigious Government Assessment Award
The Dodgers, who have clinched a postseason berth for the fifth consecutive year, return home tomorrow to open their final homestand of the regular season against the San Francisco Giants (Sept. 22-24) and San Diego Padres (Sept. 25-27).
Dodgers Back Home Friday; Last Homestand of 2017 Season
Auditions for the the upcoming Canyon Theater Guild's production of A Christmas Story are just around the corner.
Sept. 30-Oct. 1: Christmas Story Auditions at CTG
Now that the formerly great state of California is a sanctuary, I’ve got to compare that action with the actions in the early 1860s of the Confederate States of America. They decided what laws they wanted to follow and what ones they didn’t.
No Home for Me | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
Santa Clarita Valley residents have known the family-owned Italian restaurant, Sisley Kitchen, since 1993 when their doors first opened at the top of Valencia Town Center Drive in Westfield Valencia.
Renovations Complete at Sisley Kitchen
The Women's Soccer team will be finishing up their non-conference matches this weekend.
Sept. 22-24: CSUN Athletics Roundup
David Wolfram will demonstrate pastel-over-watercolor painting at the Santa Clarita Artists Association (SCAA) meeting on Monday evening, Nov. 20 at 6:30 pm. This event is free, open to the public and meets at Barnes & Noble, 23630 Valencia Blvd.
Nov. 20: Pastel-Over-Watercolor Demonstration at SCAA Meeting
Beginning October 1, all 23 California State University (CSU) campuses will accept applications for admission to the fall 2018 term.
Oct. 1: CSU Accepting Fall 2018 Applications
College of the Canyons launched its First-Year Promise (FYP) program this fall, and to ensure the future of the FYP program, which offers full-time freshman students waived tuition and fees during their first year of study, the COC Foundation has committed to fundraising $500,000 over the next two years
COC First-Year Promise Fundraising Campaign Underway
The city of Santa Clarita is inviting our younger residents to take part in the 30th anniversary celebration.
City Launches, “30 Things for 30 Years” Contest, Students Invited to Take Part
California State University, Northridge’s Friends of the Oviatt Library welcomes members of the community to nominate their favorite stories about the San Fernando Valley for consideration of the San Fernando Valley Award for Non-Fiction.
CSUN Library Group Invites Community to Nominate Favorite San Fernando Valley Story
The Los Angeles Dodgers today announced sellouts for all seven potential postseason home games in the Division Series and League Championship Series just hours after tickets went on sale to the public at 10:00 a.m. It’s believed to be the quickest that the club has sold out of postseason tickets in Dodger Stadium history.
Dodgers NLDS, NLCS Tickets Already Sold Out
Sales of existing single-family homes increased 7.4 percent throughout Santa Clarita during August while the median price of homes that changed owners rose 6.6 percent, the Southland Regional Association of REALTORS® reported today.
Increase in SCV August Home Sales, Prices
Mountainview Elementary School parents were greeted with a voicemail Thursday morning informing them of a break-in on campus believed to have occurred the night before.
Vandals Trash Library, Computers, Classrooms at Mountainview
Hans' family did not know too much about his childhood or the country he had grown up in. About all the family knew was that Hans and his wife were born in Germany but had lived in this small Minnesota town for the last 60 years or more.
Lesson from History | Commentary by John Windsor
A gang sweep targeting Newhall 13, a well known Santa Clarita criminal organization, netted three arrests Thursday.
Three Arrests Made in Newhall 13 Gang Sweep
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is proud to announce the launch of our new LASD Facebook Español.
LASD Facebook Español Now Online
Autumn Gratitude, Santa Clarita Artists Association's new show will be open on Sept 28th and run to November 4th, with a free artists’ reception on Friday October 6th, 5 to 9 pm.
SCAA’s Newest Show, “Autumn Gratitude,” Opens
September is for seniors. Businesses around Santa Clarita are taking part in the following SCV Senior Center New Building Campaign events and asking the community to show support.
SCV Businesses Holding End-of-Month Events to Support New Senior Center
Kaiser Permanente Panorama City Medical Center will kick-off its no-cost flu shot clinics this Saturday, September 23, 2017 in the Atrium of Medical Offices 2 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Kaiser Permanente to Hold Flu Shot Clinics Saturday
Starting September 23, Santa Clarita residents can get a flu shot at no cost — no appointment needed.
Sept. 23: SCV Flu Shots
The College of the Canyons Athletics department is inviting all staff and students associated with a Santa Clarita Valley school district or campus to attend Saturday's Cougar football game free of charge.
Sept. 23: COC Football Game Free to SCV School District Staff, Students
There is a common insect that most people are not aware of because you never see it. It is mostly active underground. However, if you know what you are looking for, its traps are in many places and are very obvious.
You Won’t See Them | Commentary by Evelyne Vandersande
1974 - COC's new Cougar Stadium opens for first game of football season; Harbor beats COC, 26-21 [story]
A “fabulist” coming-of-age novel about a queer mixed-race boy in the bayous of Louisiana, written by California State University, Northridge English professor Martin Pousson, has won the 2017 PEN Center USA Fiction Award.
CSUN’s Martin Pousson Wins PEN’s Literary Award for Fiction
Public notification that the Santa Clarita Community College District (College of the Canyons) Early Childhood Education Center on the Valencia campus is participating in the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program.
COC Valencia Participates in USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program
Public notification that the Santa Clarita Community College District (College of the Canyons) Early Childhood Education Centers are participating in the United States Department of Agriculture’s Child and Adult Care Food Program.
COC Canyon Country Participates in USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program