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Cemex mine deal brokered

Posted: April 25, 2008 1:15 p.m.
Updated: June 26, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Congressman Buck McKeon has introduced legislation that would in effect stop expanded mining operations in Soledad Canyon. Pictured Friday at a press conference announcing the deal are (from left): Bob Kellar, Santa Clarita Mayor; Steve Wise, Cemex president, Pacific region; George Runner, State Senator; McKeon; and Laurene Weste, Santa Clarita ...

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An agreement that would put a halt to the long-proposed Cemex mine in Canyon Country was announced today by Congressman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, R-Santa Clarita.

The deal, which was introduced to Congress as HR Bill 5877 Thursday, would in effect swap the proposed Soledad Canyon mine site for land in Victorville.

Per the agreement, Cemex would then sell the land to the city of Victorville or a private buyer to be used for purposes other than mining.

Victorville officials see the land swap as a boon to the city's economic development plan. Santa Clarita Valley residents and the city of Santa Clarita opposed the Soledad Canyon mine as a scourge that would add pollution and unwanted traffic to Highway 14.

"Congressman Buck McKeon has brokered a win-win agreement for all," Victorville Councilman Mike Rothschild said during a news conference at McKeon's Santa Clarita Valley offices today.

"It has taken a long time to get to this point -- this is a major accomplishment," McKeon said. "Some people enjoy fighting and other people enjoy getting things done. This is a great example of getting things done."

"We're 100 percent behind (the agreement) and will be working hard to support it," said Steven A. Wise, Cemex regional president of Pacific operations, representing Cemex President Gilberto Perez.

"It's truly a great day for the city of Santa Clarita," said Santa Clarita Mayor Bob Kellar, who has spearheaded the effort to stop the mining operation for more than eight years. "Santa Clarita has been rated one of the best places to live because our quality of life has been paramount."

If the legislation is successful, Kellar said, "We would no longer have to worry about the threat this would bring to the city's border."

If HR 5877 is not successful, McKeon said, "I will re-introduce the legislation on the first day of the next session."

Lila Littlejohn and Stephen K. Peeples contributed to this story. See Saturday's edition of The Signal for a complete report.

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