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Cemex swap bill stalled in House committee

McKeon to reintroduce in next session

Posted: October 2, 2008 9:56 a.m.
Updated: December 3, 2008 5:00 a.m.

The Soledad Canyon Mine Act (H.R. 5887) remains stuck in committee without a hearing as the 110th Congress' second session comes to a close, and representatives are focused on the nation's financial crisis.

Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-Santa Clarita) today said he will reintroduce the bill in the 111th Congress, scheduled to start in January.

Legislators have not yet determined the current session's end date; it could be late October or sometime after the Nov. 4 election, according to a spokeswoman in McKeon's office.

H.R. 5887, legislation that incorporates an agreement reached by the cities of Santa Clarita and Victorville and Cemex to settle a dispute regarding a mine proposed to operate in Soledad Canyon, has bipartisan support that will continue as the bill is reintroduced, according to a statement McKeon made today.

"This session is quickly wrapping up with the economic rescue plan dominating Congress, and it has become clear that the Soledad Canyon Mine Act will need to be brought forward in the 111th Congress," McKeon said. "That's why I plan to reintroduce the bill as soon as possible in the new legislative year. This is a critically important issue for my constituents and the legislation has ideal, bipartisan support behind it that will continue as we move forward."

"While I am disappointed H.R. 5887 didn't get through the process this year, the City Council and I are appreciative of Congressman McKeon's amazing success in securing broad-based support for the bill and his unwavering commitment to reintroduce it early next year," said Bob Kellar, Santa Clarita mayor. 

"It's not a surprise to us at all," said Mike Murphy, the city's intergovernmental relations officer. "Congressman McKeon was very clear when he introduced the bill that the biggest challenge it would face would be the Congressional calendar, and that has proven to be the case."

"There was a lot of background work to do, including getting cosponsors and other supporters, meeting with committee members and their staffs, listening to their concerns, and all that takes time," Murphy said. "A lot of that work has now been done, and so with the introduction of a new bill in early 2009 we will have already done a lot of the legwork. It's not like we'll be starting from scratch."

"With that head start, I am confident legislation that will prevent mining in Soledad Canyon will be enacted next year," Kellar said.

McKeon introduced H.R. 5887 April 24. The legislation would cancel two 10-year contracts Cemex has with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to mine in Soledad Canyon. The cancellation would end the possibility of mining at the site, and the added traffic and pollution Santa Clarita officials say would adversely affect the city.

The bill was referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources and to the Committee on Ways and Means for hearings. There was no hearing scheduled during the current session.

As McKeon noted, the Soledad Canyon Mine Act received a wide breadth and depth of support from a variety of constituencies. The bill has 10 cosponsors, including two Democratic members.

"The Soledad Canyon mining issue remains at the forefront for the residents of Santa Clarita, and I support the measure authored by Congressman McKeon," Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) said in the statement. "I look forward to addressing the issue with him again as we move into the 111th Congress."

Since its introduction, bipartisan elected leaders have declared support for the legislation. They include the entire Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, six separate southern California City Councils and more than 60 local elected leaders in Southern California; environmental and air quality groups such as the Sierra Club, Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, Planning and Conservation League, Clean Air Now, Breathe California of Los Angeles County and the Coalition for Clean Air; business organizations such as the Valley Industrial Association of Santa Clarita, the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce and the California Association of Realtors; political organizations such as the Los Angeles County Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley; neighborhood groups including homeowners associations and town councils; local school boards and water districts; and more than 1,000 Southern California residents.


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