The federal Bureau of Land Management hand-delivered a formal document to a representative of the Cemex Corp. on Friday, terminating Cemex’s two 10-year contracts to mine in Soledad Canyon. The termination document cited non-performance by Cemex.
The formal document, referred to as “a decision” by the BLM, terminates Cemex’s contracts which were issued in 2000 according to the Record of Decision. Cemex is the third corporation to own the contracts; the two others were Southdown and Transit Mixed Concrete.
The termination document was delivered Friday morning in a face-to-face meeting held in Sacramento between Cliff Kirkmeyer, executive vice president of Cemex USA, and Jim Kenna, the BLM’s state director.
“Today is a historic day in Santa Clarita,” said Mayor Pro Tem Bob Kellar, a member of the City Council’s Cemex subcommittee. “We have worked hard for the last 16 years to make sure our community was protected from the effects of a mega-mining project and that hard work by many including our City, our elected officials and those at all levels of government has paid off.”
“Protecting our community is job one and the decision by the BLM is a monumental one for Santa Clarita,” said Councilwoman Laurene Weste, the other Cemex council subcommittee member. “I am very appreciative of our partners including our U.S. Senators –Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein; and our Congressman Steve Knight, Congresswoman Judy Chu and Congressman Brad Sherman. Without their tenacity and commitment, we wouldn’t be here today. I have thoroughly enjoyed working alongside Mayor Pro Tem Bob Kellar who has remained steadfast with me.”
This termination of the two 10-year contracts ends the City of Santa Clarita’s 16-year dispute with Cemex Corp. The federally issued contracts called for the mining of 56 million tons of sand and gravel from Soledad Canyon that would have added up to 1,164 truck trips a day to local roads and freeways, as well as causing air quality issues and potential negative impacts to fish, wildlife and plants in the area.
In February of 2007, the City of Santa Clarita and Cemex committed to work together in the advancement of “mutually acceptable solutions which may include federal legislation that, if successful, will result in a win-win for the City, the community, as well as for Cemex.”
The City and Cemex signed a four point agreement, “Principles for Cooperation.” The agreement calls for Cemex to suspend all permit processes for the Soledad mining project for one year; an agreement that was renewed annually for several years.
Cemex agreed to cease efforts to obtain necessary-permitting for its mining project. Both parties agreed to cease all unfavorable advertising, paid or unpaid media, public relations, political efforts. Previously, the City’s public relations campaigns have accelerated and the issue has received national media attention. Some of these efforts have included leasing a freeway billboard, wrapping a 45-foot commuter bus, forming a national alliance, and a sundry of other public relations tools and tactics aimed at drawing attention to the City’s effort to prevent the proposed mining project in Soledad Canyon.
Press Statement from BLM-California Office
The Bureau of Land Management today issued a detailed decision rescinding two mineral materials contracts issued to CEMEX in 1990 for the sale of sand and gravel in Soledad Canyon, near Santa Clarita, California. The decision to rescind and withdraw the contracts is a result of the company’s failure to take the necessary actions to make the contracts effective. Cemex has not made progress in fulfilling the terms of the contracts during the past 25 years.
“This decision is based on Cemex’s own inaction,” said BLM California State Director Jim Kenna. “The BLM can no longer support the continued and prolonged delays and lack of progress in fulfilling the terms of the contract.”
Knight Declares Victory in Cemex Fight
[SANTA CLARITA, CA] – Rep. Steve Knight (CA-25) welcomed an announcement by Cemex that they will cancel their mining contracts in the Santa Clarita Valley.
The proposed aggregate mine in Soledad Canyon was resisted by many in the community for nearly 20 years, and on Friday the Bureau of Land Management annulled the contracts, essentially halting mining in the area.
“Today marks a major victory for our community, which we have fought for many years,” said Rep. Knight.
Rep. Knight has been a longstanding opponent of the mine. While a member of the California State Legislature, he joined the City of Santa Clarita, Senators Boxer and Feinstein, and other leaders in the community in supporting legislative and regulatory efforts to block the mine. After becoming a member of U.S. Congress in January he led a federal effort to solve the issue, working with the Bureau of Land Management and the Army Corps of Engineers to have the company’s contracts cancelled and even threatening legislative action if necessary.
“Preventing CEMEX from breaking ground on this mine has been my top priority since I took office,” continued Rep. Knight. “After eight months, I can proudly say that we have reached a turning point that was almost unheard of just a year ago.”
Antonovich Applauds BLM Decision
Los Angeles County Mayor Michael D. Antonovich applauded the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to officially cancel Cemex’s mining contracts in Soledad Canyon.
“This is a great victory for the residents of the Santa Clarita Valley and I applaud Congressman Steve Knight for his efforts on this issue,” said Mayor Antonovich. “Since 2000 when it obtained Federal approval, Cemex has failed to cooperate with Federal, State and local agencies concerned with environmental protection, air quality, water supply and traffic congestion.”