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McKeon’s Cemex bill accomplishes nothing

Posted: October 4, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 4, 2012 2:00 a.m.

On the last legislative day before the election recess, Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon introduced HR 6469 (Soledad Canyon Mine Mitigation and Relocation Act of 2012). First and foremost, the bill is inappropriately titled because it doesn’t do anything to stop the mine. Instead, it calls for a study by the Bureau of Land Management to tell the congressman how to achieve the goals of his previous bill and get around the earmarks ban that he voted for. The City of Santa Clarita has spent more than $10 million in the past 13 years fighting the implementation of this mine, mostly in litigation. It was determined that since the land subsurface use rights are under the jurisdiction of the federal government, only Congress had the authority to modify the BLM contract.

If McKeon’s new bill was passed into law, nothing would change. The mine would not be stopped. The BLM would conduct a study, the outcome of which is already obvious. The BLM would tell McKeon that they cannot act administratively and the only way to stop the mine is for him to introduce and pass legislation canceling the federal contracts and prohibiting future mining on the site. Truly, he’s asking a question that’s already been answered. The BLM study would waste time, taxpayer money, and resources with no definitive results.

Sen. Barbara Boxer currently has legislation in the Senate carrying out the spirit of what all parties have already agreed to, a sale of disposable lands to avoid mining in Soledad Canyon. Even McKeon previously agreed to this, however he refuses to sponsor a companion bill in the House. McKeon’s recent press release claims he only learned of the earmark designation in November 2011, but earlier in February he told The Signal he wouldn’t introduce the legislation this session because of the ban, which he supports.

Boxer didn’t require a BLM study to tell her how to act, she responded to a potential environmental disaster. We need action from our congressman, not a study. McKeon has been criticized over his lack of effort on this important local issue by me and many others. His only action is nothing more than a political ploy to create an illusion of progress. That’s not leadership. That’s attempting political self-preservation.

I’m sorry, McKeon. It’s too little, too late.

Lee Rogers is challenging Congressman McKeon in the 25th District U.S. Congressional race. He lives in Simi Valley with his wife and two daughters.


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