USA: Anti-CEMEX bill moves forward in California SenatePublished by MAC on 2021-04-26
Source: KHTS Newsroom, The Signal
A 25-year-long battle over mining rights in the Soledad Canyon.
California Senate Bill 520 will allow public to comment on large mining projects — like the proposed sand and gravel mine in Soledad Canyon — before the State Water Resources Control Board decides on the application. Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste testified in support of the bill before the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee, where it received unanimous support.
The City of Santa Clarita in northwestern Los Angeles County, California, has been fighting to prevent large scale mining since the contracts were issued by the federal government in 1990. CEMEX filed a lawsuit in federal courts against the Department of the Interior in May 2019, seeking to invalidate a 2015 cancellation of the mine contracts.
April 6, 2021
State Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, received unanimous and bipartisan support from his Senate colleagues in the Appropriations Committee for Senate Bill 520 [https://leginfo.legislature.
The bill allows the public to comment on large mining projects — like the proposed CEMEX sand and gravel mine in Soledad Canyon, which had its water-appropriation permit application filed with the State Water Resources Control Board more than 30 years ago — before the board reaches a decision on the application.
The bill’s next stop is the Senate floor, where Wilk will present his legislation to the full Senate.
“The Senate Appropriations Committee recognized that the bill would have minimal and absorbable costs to the state, while providing an immense benefit for communities that will be impacted by proposed large mining operations,” Wilk said in a prepared statement.
Santa Clarita Mayor Pro Tem Laurene Weste testified in support of the bill before the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee, where the bill also received unanimous support.
In 2019, the State Water Resources Control Board changed the status of CEMEX’s 1991 application from “pending” to “on hold” due to longstanding litigation on the project.
“Should the application be reactivated, the time period for filing protests has long passed,” according to a statement from Wilk’s office. “As dynamics of water availability have changed significantly for the state as a whole due to climate change and more frequent droughts, SB 520 allows community members to provide current hydrological data to the board as to the impact the project will have on their water supply.”
Decades-Long Battle Against CEMEX Soledad Canyon ‘Mega Mine’ Could Be Over
The decades-long battle to ensure that mega-mining never occurs in the Santa Clarita Valley could over, as CEMEX’s second 10-year mining contract officially expires on July 31, officials said.
KHTS Newsroom https://www.hometownstation.
July 28, 2020
The decades-long battle to ensure that mega-mining never occurs in the Santa Clarita Valley could be over, as CEMEX’s second 10-year mining contract officially expires on July 31, officials said.
CEMEX did request a one-year extension of the mining contract, a request which was denied by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), according to the City of Santa Clarita.
The BLM cited that CEMEX did not show that the delay in removing mineral materials was beyond their control and referenced the company’s failure to, “complete steps necessary to begin mining” and “make in lieu payments on the contract,” according to the City.
This decision may be appealed to the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA), and CEMEX may also request a stay.
“Even though CEMEX has the option to appeal the denied one-year extension, the July 31, 2020, date is a landmark victory for the City of Santa Clarita, the community and our local environment,” said Councilmember and CEMEX City Council Ad Hoc Committee member Bob Kellar. “As of that date, time will be up and there will no longer be active mining contracts for Soledad Canyon.”
This latest development comes after a pair of decisions in December 2019, in which the BLM stated for the current mining contract, and the prior 10-year contract, no actual production had occurred and no annual payments in lieu of production were made, and therefore annual in lieu of production payments were due.
The BLM is demanding $6.3 million for CEMEX’s first 10-year contract, which expired in July 2010. In addition, the BLM is also collecting the $700,000 bid deposit, made by CEMEX, as forfeiture, for the full purchase value of the first contract owed to the BLM of $7 million, according to City officials.
The BLM issued another notice on July 23, demanding that CEMEX pay the total purchase price for the second contract, which is more than $21 million. Failure to do so results in the BLM submitting the unpaid bill to the United States Department of the Treasury as an outstanding debt. The BLM has yet to receive any payment or correspondence from CEMEX regarding payment, according to the City.
The other ongoing legal aspect is the lawsuit filed by CEMEX in federal court in the District of Columbia against the U.S. Department of the Interior in May 2019. The suit seeks to invalidate the BLM’s August 2015 cancellation of the contracts and reverse the administrative ruling issued in March 2019 by the IBLA. The key part of that IBLA ruling is that all of CEMEX’s mining rights in Soledad Canyon would expire on July 31, 2020. The litigation is ongoing, with no definitive timeline at this time.
“To hear the words, no active mining contract, is something our community has fought hard for over the past two-plus decades,” said Councilmember and CEMEX City Council Ad Hoc Committee member, Laurene Weste. “The Santa Clarita Valley is a place of great historical significance and home to some of our country’s most iconic wildlife and critical plant species. Protecting this precious environment has been a community-wide fight, one we will continue to face as a united front of elected officials, organizations and residents.”
These most recent developments are the latest in what has been nearly a 25-year-long battle over mining rights in Soledad Canyon.
The City of Santa Clarita has been fighting to prevent mining in Soledad Canyon since the CEMEX contracts were issued by the federal government in 1990. The CEMEX contracts would have allowed for the mining of 56 million tons of sand and gravel from Soledad Canyon, which would have added up to 1,164 truck trips a day to local roads and freeways.
“This would have caused air quality issues and potential negative impacts on the Santa Clara River, the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and wildlife corridors connecting the Angeles National Forest, as well as fish, wildlife and plants in the area,” reads a statement issued by the City Tuesday. “The City of Santa Clarita would like to thank all of our partners who fought and continue to fight to protect our community from mega-mining.”