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UPDATE: Wilk introduces ‘Plan B’ to help block Cemex mine

Posted: February 16, 2016 12:41 p.m.
Updated: February 16, 2016 7:33 p.m.

Santa Clarita Valley Assemblyman Scott Wilk introduced a bill Tuesday that would re-open the permitting process for the long-debated Cemex sand and gravel mine in Canyon Country.

Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, described his Assembly Bill 1986 as “a ‘Plan B’ that would allow us to make the case with state regulators on why this mega mine doesn’t work in our community.”
The thrust of the bill is an application for a water appropriation permit from the California State Water Resources Control Board, made shortly after the Bureau of Land Management issued the permits to mine in Soledad Canyon in Canyon Country.

The permits to mine changed hands twice over the years as one firm bought out the original owner, then Cemex bought out the second. The water appropriation permit application was essentially placed on hold after the city of Santa Clarita and Cemex — who battled over the mine for years — struck a temporary “truce” and sought a legislative solution to their dispute in Congress.

But that truce is now over. The permit was never granted, and the application for it is still considered to be active, according to Wilk’s office.

Wilk’s AB 1986 would re-start the notice of application process for any water permit from the State Water Resources Control Board if one hasn’t been acted on in 20 years.

The new notice, according to Wilk’s office, “would re-open the protest period and any other administrative processes, as if it were being undertaken for the first time.”

The water appropriation permit was originally sought to allow the use of 322 acre-feet of water per year from the Santa Clara River in mining and industrial operations, according to Wilk’s office,

An acre-foot is equivalent to about 325,851 gallons.

Santa Clarita city officials have long battled the proposed Cemex mine, which would allow the mining firm to extract 56 million tons of sand and gravel from hundreds of acres in Soledad Canyon, citing issues with environmental damage and increased truck traffic on Santa Clarita Valley freeways.

Wilk said in Tuesday’s press release the mine “would wreak havoc on our environment and quality of life” and added he is “committed to killing” the project.

Wilk also expressed hope “that our community will prevail at the federal level to kill this ill-conceived project,” referencing a decision last August when the BLM revoked Cemex’s mining contracts, citing a lack of progress in fulfilling their terms.

Cemex appealed that decision and the matter is in the hands of the Interior Board of Land Appeals, which issues final decisions for the Department of the Interior — the department that includes the BLM.

Congressman Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, last week introduced a bill of his own that would block anyone from ever mining at the Soledad Canyon site.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney



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