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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.”

 

 

 

 

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46 Comments

  1. And when will Cemex sue the City?

  2. Robyn Tevere Robyn Tevere says:

    I’m so happy I’m jumping up and down crying with joy.

  3. Kris Daams Kris Daams says:

    Now let’s all pretend this is all Bob Kellar’s doing and that we dont have to thank the Obama administration

  4. Mike Bagack Mike Bagack says:

    And I still have allergies.

  5. Annette says:

    Many thanks to those who had the tenacity to see this through for the community!

  6. Eric Walser says:

    Disingenuous!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Apparently the BLM still has jurisdiction over the land in question. Will they look for another use for the land or even offer it to another mining company? Are there safeguards in place?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Pam I wondered the same thing, I sure hope not! Maybe we can rush in and get the area protected permanently.

  9. Thank goodness! Why in the world did they ever entertain this idea anyway??$$$’s, is a good guess.

  10. Dan says:

    Sad news, mining has such a negative reputation when it’s such a benefit to economy, especially sand and gravel mines which have very minimal impact on environment and are heavily regulated.

  11. Seriously People???????????

  12. jimvs says:

    Congratulations. We have just begun to fight.

    Step 1 – stop the mega-mining by foreign interests.
    Step 2 – stop the closing of Federal lands aka the People’s property by unnecessary contracting out ownership or usage.
    Step 3 – Stop the current rush to limit/forbid access by the People of the United States of America to the lands they own as currently specified by National Monument status conferred by Executive Action.

    It’s bad enough that the Forest Service has closed access to much of OUR lands; their excuse is not fraud. They have been ham-strung by Congress’ B.S. regarding costs.

    Those people pushing for minimum access to all “natural areas” have been doing so for reasons that seem important to them. They do not understand that those lands are for All of us.

    Not just hikers, not just bikers, not just people who feel good about “protecting the natural wildlife”.

    All of us. Kids with their parents; grandparents with their grandkids; old folks with physical impairments; special needs folks with their support teams.

    The wilderness is not something to turn into a carefully landscaped park. It is something to be enjoyed as it is, wild and at least slightly dangerous. Stopping this mine is only one step in protecting our natural environment from greedy and ridiculous development

    That does not mean closing all access to nature by reducing or stopping access by roads. Too many people will never be able to see or experience the wild lands of the San Gabriel Mountains if access by roads is prohibited or limited.

    Like I said, the fight has just begun.

  13. Woohooo….that is excellent news! !!!

  14. Chris Sheldon and Cori Sheldon… Yeaaaaaa! !!! No Cemex

  15. Glady Mills Glady Mills says:

    jack what do you mean?

  16. Eric Walser says:

    This is very encouraging news for those who wish to restrict economic growth by undermining free enterprise!

    • SCVNews.com says:

      It’s good news for the industries we actually want to attract to Santa Clarita, like more filming (which is already huge), which won’t happen if there’s a massive amount of mining going on next door. But you’re also correct to the extent that our population is changing over time; with the political and socioeconomic shifts, there are more and more people coming here who would be more inclined to restrict free enterprise, versus the people who lived here, say, 100 years ago. So that could be good news for them, too. Politically, the Santa Clarita Valley is not the Antelope Valley by any stretch of the imagination.

      • Eric Walser says:

        It is extraordinarily myopic to consider this good news in light of what this letter represents in terms of the ability of a business to rely upon good faith conduct of government within a contract. The negative effects are far reaching so as to totally override any purported local benefit. Further, your assertion that the mine would have a negative effect on businesses over 2 miles away is unsupported. On the contrary, the mining activity itself attracts additional film revenue due to the simple fact that movies like to film in quarries.

  17. Kenneth Chadwick, maybe Gillibrand well buy it

  18. Jennifer Kilpatrick says:

    I remember with great sentiment the one and only event in my memory, where Santa Clarita’s staunch Republicans and its environmentalist Democrats came together, the fight against the Cemex Mine. Reading BLM’s termination letter addressed to Cemex, I realize that Cemex and the BLM were guilty of “sneaking up” on Santa Clarita, making plans and agreements in the dark between 1999 and mid 2002.

    In late 2002, thanks to Santa Clarita’s City Council, “the people” finally understood what was going on, and participated in a huge anti-mine pep rally in a high school gym. Then, the City chartered buses to take a horde of Santa Claritans down to County Hall in Downtown L.A. to oppose the County granting land use permits to Cemex. The City provided anti-mine T-Shirts for its residents to wear. My 11 year old daughter and her dad rode on the bus and I met them. (Just last month my now 24 year old daughter found her tiny anti-Cemex T-Shirt in the back of her closet!) The Board of Supervisors chamber was packed with people, hundreds of them. Supervisor Mike Antonovich was so revved up with indignation about the potential traffic impacts on his constitutions, in Santa Clarita, Agua Duce, Acton, Palmdale and Lancaster, he could not contain himself. If the middle of the presentation by Cemex’s lawyers in favor of their project our Supervisor became so outraged, he made a motion to stop the hearing and deny the permits. The other Supersivors voted to support him and it was over. Everyone applauded with joy…except for those of us who understood the process.

    Despite beautiful legal work by the City’s lawyer, a notoriously cranky Federal judge later erased the Supervisors vote and ordered the County to issue Cemex its permits.

    Years passed, and as Darryl Manzer and SCVNews point out, millions of Santa Clarita taxpayer dollars where dumped into complex maneuvers to kill the mine legislatively, without the BLM’s cooperation. Through the end of 2014 BLM was vehemently opposing cancellation of the mining program, because its managers wanted the cash flow to fund their other programs.

    Now, this letter called a BLM Record of Decision has arrived, with page after page of carefully written description, from BLM’s point of view, on how Cemex failed to perform on its BLM contracts, casting BLM as the aggrieved party, not Santa Claritans. In the last few pages of that Record of Decision, BLM includes language which tips off any lawyer that there IS more to come. BLM says it will pursue “the sureties” (insurance companies) for payment on the bond posted by Cemex to insure its performance on the contracts. BLM gives notice to Cemex that Cemex has a right to appeal the letter’s termination of the contracts.

    The entry of surety bond insurance companies into a problem situation is never good, because they have but one objective: Not paying money. Under many legal theories the surety bond holder can step into Cemex’s shoes and pursue that appeal. So the “problem” of the mine will not be gone until BLM has the surety’s money. Perhaps more check writing by the city, to make BLM whole, and take the surety out of the picture, will be necessary. So Santa Claritans, don’t be angry if you hear that the city has to write more checks to make BLM whole under the last pages of that Record of Decision letter.

    Outside of Santa Clarita, BLM’s world is very different. Senators Harry Reid and Dean Heller of Nevada have a wonderful relationship with BLM’s senior management in Washington. During the frenzy of legislation passed by Congress at the end of 2014, Nevada’s Senators were able to convince BLM to relinquish fee title ownership, including mineral rights, to more than 100,000 acres of BLM land in Nevada, giving the land to the state, to Clark County and to several Nevada cities. Prior to that 2014 Nevada BLM bill, Senator Reid had previously twice killed a proposed Cemex gravel mine in the south end of the Las Vegas Valley, near the M Casino if you know it.

    In 2014 Nevadans got ownership of all of that BLM land “for free” at the same time Congressman McKeon, retiring Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, one of the most powerful Congressmen “on the Hill”, was unable to get his Cemex-solution bill through the Senate, because of the last minute intervention of an obscure junior Senator from New Mexico, Martin Heinrich, the son of Shirley Bybee, a member of a politically powerful western family which includes a rather infamous Federal judge Jay Bybee. Senator Heinrich sided with BLM and put a “hold” on Buck’s Cemex-solution bill, negating Buck’s “juice”. I won’t speculate on the Heinrich-Bybee-McKeon connection but perhaps other Santa Claritans can figure it out.

    Even assuming that BLM has wiped the slate clean with this Record of Decision letter, removing Cemex from the picture, Santa Clarita is STILL at risk because that mine-able aggregate will still be sitting in those mountains northeast of Santa Clarita’s boundaries, waiting for BLM under some President’s administration to decide that cash flow from sale of mining rights is needed. It is absolutely essential that Santa Clarita or Los Angeles County obtain the same thing as Senators Reid and Heller delivered for their constituents last year. A gift of fee title ownership of the BLM land, including mineral rights, covering both the former Cemex mine site and additional BLM land to the north which Leon Worden identified, long ago, as being another candidate for a BLM mine which would be disastrous to the public health. How can that happen? Only if Santa Clarita figures out how to move BLM’s decision makers the way Senator Reid could for his constituents. Only through the gracious offices of Senators Feinstein and Boxer, with the cooperation of BLM officials who are still controlled by President Barack Obama, at least for the next 15-1/2 months.

    • SCVNews.com says:

      You’re right, Jennifer, but as for the future, there is finally some recognition at BLM of what we’re trying to achieve and what we’re willing to do to get it (e.g., tax ourselves to buy open space); and there is finally some understanding at Ag & Interior of the potential when we tie together the Rim of the Valley, San Gabriels Natl Monument and a few other things. Surely we haven’t heard the last of Cemex (they played poker badly, while everyone else was playing Battleship) … but there is movement in all the right places that sees an alternate future. (Hi Jen from Leon.)

  19. And then the expensive appeals begin….

  20. TimBen Boydston says:

    I would like to add my thanks to the taxpayers of Santa Clarita. Without your support, and the money you paid in taxes, we could never have been successful so far in this fight. However, before we print up any banners touting a great victory, we might want to wait and see if the decision is appealed.

    • SCVNews.com says:

      It would almost be fun to see Cemex try to appeal; read the decision letter carefully (the pdf in this story)

  21. Matt Denny says:

    AN historic day.

  22. PJ says:

    Jennifer, in addition to opposing the CEMEX mine I can think of 4 issues where Santa Clarita staunch Republicans, environmentalists and Democrats came together; Elsmere Canyon, deep well injection, chloride in the wastewater removal mandates and electronic billboards. We do better when we put Party aside and join together to work for what’s best for our community. Stopping the Chiquita Canyon Landfill is the next issue battle we need to fight TOGETHER. We need elected and residents of all Parties and persuasions to get on board to preserve our quality of life.

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