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Council wrap: City upbeat about Cemex bill's passage

L.A. County supes OK resolution of support

Posted: June 26, 2008 9:18 p.m.
Updated: August 27, 2008 5:03 a.m.
Santa Clarita city officials flew to the nation's capital again last week to get members of a key committee on their side before the lawmakers consider a bill that would keep a large mining company from setting up shop in Soledad Canyon.

"Forgive me, I'm getting a little optimistic here," Mayor Bob Kellar said at this week's City Council meeting. "I'm a little excited."

U.S. Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, introduced the Soledad Canyon Mine Act in April to provide Cemex, Inc. with land in Victorville that would be used for purposes other than mining.

Kellar joined Councilwoman Laurene Weste, City Manager Ken Pulskamp and Intergovernmental Relations Officer Michael Murphy to meet with 13 members of the House Committee on Natural Resources, which will be the first committee to hear the bill.

"I was very impressed with how well received we were," Weste said. "People were genuinely receptive to listening to the city's needs."

Cemex is authorized through the federal Bureau of Land Management to mine up to five million tons of sand and gravel annually on 400 acres of land in Soledad Canyon in the Canyon Country area.

The city has spent millions over nearly a decade to fight plans for mining that city officials said would have brought pollution and massive truck traffic to Santa Clarita. McKeon introduced several other bills, but H.R. 5887 is the one only Cemex has supported.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors threw its weight behind the bill on Tuesday, approving a resolution of support drafted by Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.

"Congressman Buck McKeon's legislation, House Resolution 5887, would eliminate the added congestion the mine would have caused with diesel-belching 18-wheelers on the already overcrowded Highway 14 and Interstate 5 freeways," Antonovich said in a statement issued Wednesday.

The city officials were in Washington, D.C. from Tuesday through Friday and held meetings that included staff from the office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. A Cemex representative also attended the meetings to speak of the company's support of the bill.

The trip is the third for city officials in the last two months. They plan to return to Washington in the next few weeks, Kellar said.

A time schedule for the committee to hear the bill is not yet known.

Signal Senior Writer Jim Holt contributed to this report.


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