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Lynne Plambeck: Thanks to Boxer for SCV work

Environmentally Speaking

Posted: September 1, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: September 1, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Monday, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., visited the Santa Clarita Valley to help dedicate the new energy-efficient transit center in Santa Clarita.

Built in part with a grant from the federal government, it will promote use of public transportation, as well as provide an example to other public and commercial developers of the long-term energy savings achieved with new efficient technology. (I hope G & L Realty, the Beverly Hills developer of the huge commercial office complex on McBean Parkway, will take note of this.)

In spite of this valley’s reputation for conservative politics — and sometimes antienvironmental rhetoric — Boxer has been there for us on many important battles that affect our local environment. For instance, she worked for years to help us stop Elsmere Canyon Landfill proposed for the Newhall Pass.

This huge landfill would have filled the entire Elsmere Canyon, and overflowed into Whitney Canyon, which are now owned by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. Waterfalls, streams and 3,000 oaks would have been destroyed, buried by our wasteful ways, not to mention habitat for many endangered species and an important wildlife corridor.

First proposed in the early ’90s, it was opposed by a large coalition of environmental groups, including the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment, as well as the city and water districts, over concerns with its effect on wildlife, traffic, and air and water quality.

Permitting yet another huge landfill would also have had the detrimental effect of encouraging cheap dumping instead of promoting recycling. Turning around a whole industry to develop businesses from recycled materials, rather than just tossing them, had to start with saying no to landfills.

Boxer reached across the aisle to work with Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, on a joint bill to stop the landfill. Today, every school child is taught about recycling. Green barrels are in every city, and new uses, industries and jobs have developed from recycled materials. Our valley can proudly say we were leaders in this effort.

Elsmere Canyon, with its beautiful oaks and wildlife might now soon become part of a Rim of the Valley National Recreation Area rather than an unsustainable waste repository that emits greenhouse gases and adds to global warming.
Boxer also reached across the aisle to help us fight the CEMEX mine proposed in Canyon Country. This proposal also generated a large coalition of opponents including the city, school districts and even the local Realtors Association. SCOPE participated in this opposition from its inception, as did other environmental organizations, including the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club.

While the city of Santa Clarita spent millions in a legal battle with this Mexican mining corporation, Boxer worked with McKeon again to try to develop a bill that would buy out the mineral rights in an equitable manner.

Previous bills involved a complicated swap for lands in the Victorville area owned by the Bureau of Land Management, which were to be purchased by Victorville or other interests. And the deal would supply funds to buy out the CEMEX mineral rights. The previous bills failed in part because they included the potential to allow CEMEX to have offshore oil leases and to mine in sensitive desert conservation areas as part of the buy-out agreement. You can imagine the opposition that such proposals generated in other areas of California.

Now, Boxer is carrying a new bill supported by our city, (but unfortunately without the support of our own Congressman McKeon), that eliminates such offensive proposals and thus has a better chance of passage.

Thank you, Boxer.

SCOPE’s board has voted to endorse SB 759 and promote the passage of this legislation to permanently eliminate the threat of mining and its terrible environmental consequences to our air and water quality, as well as the endangered species in that area. Eliminating thousands of gravel-truck trips on Highway 14 will reduce future traffic problems and air pollution in our valley.

We urge you to support SB 759, too. You can find out how to help by contacting Casey Bingham at the city of Santa Clarita, (661) 255-4902 or by email at

Lynne Plambeck is president of the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment.


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