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UPDATED: Wilk, Knight ask McKeon to use another tactic to halt the Cemex mine

Posted: May 6, 2014 3:26 p.m.
Updated: May 6, 2014 6:57 p.m.

While legislative options to resolve the longstanding Cemex mine issue remain ongoing, two Santa Clarita Valley representatives are urging local Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, to try a different tactic to halt the mine.

Assemblyman Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, and state Sen. Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, sent a letter, dated Tuesday, to McKeon urging him to submit an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act declaring Highway 14 to be a “national defense asset.”

The National Defense Authorization Act is a federal law that outlines the budget and expenditures for the Department of Defense and the national security programs of the Department of Energy, according to the website for the House Armed Services Committee, of which McKeon is chairman.

Inserting such an amendment would effectively ban the mine from moving forward, according to Wilk and Knight.

“He’s in a position where he can actually deliver a win for his constituents,” Wilk said Tuesday. “And I encourage him to do so.”

Cemex’s mining contracts authorize the removal of 56 million tons of sand and gravel from a site on hundreds of acres in Soledad Canyon in Canyon Country.

“As you know, at its pinnacle the Cemex mega-mine will generate 700 truck trips per day on Highway 14,” the letter to McKeon reads.

“State Highway 14 is an important transportation corridor that serves as a link between L.A. Air Force Base and Naval Base Ventura County to Edwards Air Force Base, China Lake Naval Weapons Center and the defense and aerospace prime contractors headquartered at Plant 42 in Palmdale.”

Wilk said McKeon has tried this tactic before.

“This is not unprecedented; he actually did this back in 2001,” Wilk said. “The bill language was accepted. However, it was stripped out when it went to conference committee.”

Wilk and Knight said McKeon’s position as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee could help ensure the amendment stays in the bill this time around.

“This being your final year in Congress, it is your last chance to protect the people who have sent you to represent them over the last twenty-two years,” the letter concludes. “Do the right thing and put your constituents first.”

Knight said Tuesday that he signed on to support the idea because it “makes sense.”

“I think this is timely and it is certainly an important issue for the Santa Clarita Valley,” he said.

Knight, a Republican state senator, is seeking McKeon’s seat in the upcoming congressional elections this year.

So is Democrat Lee Rogers, who joined with Wilk and Knight on Tuesday in calling for McKeon to take the action aimed at foiling the Cemex mine.

“Over McKeon’s career he’s made a lackluster attempt to address this overwhelming concern among his constituents,” Rogers said in a statement, endorsing the Wilk-Knight call to action.

McKeon announced earlier this year that he would not seek re-election at the end of his current term.

Wilk represents the 38th Assembly District, which covers most of the Santa Clarita Valley as well as Simi Valley and the northern section of the San Fernando Valley.

Knight represents California’s 21st Senate District, which includes communities in the Antelope, Santa Clarita and Victor valleys.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney




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