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McKeon meets on Cemex

Congressman talks to federal, company officials, takes heat from Sen. Boxer

Posted: May 3, 2012 5:03 p.m.
Updated: May 3, 2012 5:03 p.m.

Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, defended his record on the proposed Cemex mine Wednesday, noting he met last week with the company's vice president of government affairs and with the new head of the federal Bureau of Land Management in California.

"The meeting took place as part of our ongoing commitment to keep lines of communication open regarding Soledad Canyon," said Cemex spokeswoman Sara Engdahl.

Also last week, McKeon met with James G. Kenna, director of the Bureau of Land Management in California, and talked about Cemex, said bureau spokeswoman Erin Curtis.

"I was trying to find out his feeling (about Cemex) and find out how much pressure he's been putting on Cemex to start mining," McKeon told The Signal Editorial Board at The Signal on Wednesday.

Cemex has Bureau of Land Management contracts to open a 56 million ton sand-and-gravel mine in Soledad Canyon.

Every year for the past decade, the BLM has mailed a letter to Cemex urging them to start mining, according to the congressman.

"I was concerned about the BLM putting pressure on the company to mine," McKeon said.

"He was reluctant to give us much (information)," he said of Kenna's response.

But, while the incumbent congressman was defending his decadelong track record in keeping the mine from operating in Soledad Canyon, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., went on record Wednesday calling for McKeon to "be strong again."

Boxer, in talking to reporters over the phone about a separate issue, answered a question put to her about Cemex.

"There's only one way to get it done, and it's for the congressman who represents the area, Santa Clarita, to stand up and fight for this, because if you read any rudimentary book about how a bill becomes a law, you need both sides to work together," she said.

"The fact is something bad is going to happen to a community, we have to stop it. So I stand very firm for a change of heart here by the congressman. He was very strong before and he ought to be strong again."

Since 2004, McKeon has proposed congressional legislation to block the Cemex mine by banning mining in Soledad Canyon. None has passed.

A year ago, blaming prohibitive new anti-earmark rules, he said he would not introduce a new bill to ban the mine.

Since then, all hope in stopping the mine has shifted to Boxer's Senate Bill S3057.

According to Boxer on Wednesday, McKeon's decision not to introduce a bill proved to be one of the barriers when it came to advancing her own bill in the Senate this year.

In her talk, Boxer encouraged McKeon to re-introduce his bill.




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