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McKeon: Cemex, wilderness bills won't die

Congressman still pushing bills to protect SCV

Posted: October 14, 2008 8:52 p.m.
Updated: December 16, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon stopped by The Signal Tuesday to discuss local issues, including Cemex and the wilderness bill.

 
Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, pursues two "personal" bills in Washington - the Cemex bill and the Wilderness bill - despite the rigors and dynamics of an unfolding election, he says.

"On some personal things, the Soledad Canyon Mine Act - the Cemex bill - we weren't able to get that passed this year. We're working on it every day trying to move it," McKeon said Tuesday.

McKeon stopped by The Signal to discuss "an interesting election," fears of a depression, illegal immigration and "this energy crisis" during a whirlwind, one-day tour of his district.

The two personal pursuits topping his list of concerns, however, trump whatever other issues he's pursuing at the federal level, he says.

"Cemex and then right behind that would be the wilderness bill we've worked so hard on this year," McKeon said of his priorities. "Well, we've worked on it for a number of years. We were very close to getting that done and, you know, the year's not up."

McKeon promised to re-introduce the Cemex bill as "one of the first things" he does in the new Congress.

Some suggest the bill in its present form is too expensive to pursue.

"We're working on that. I don't want to go into any other details," he said. "It does cost money. We're working different ways to handle that problem."

McKeon hopes to have the wilderness bill addressed during the last session between the election and before the next president is sworn into office.

"Who knows, we may have a lame-duck session and have a chance to get that done," he said.

In April, McKeon introduced the Soledad Canyon Mine Act, which calls on the Secretary of the Interior to cancel Bureau of Land Management mineral contracts that permit mining in the area near Santa Clarita, and to stop further "mineral entry" in the area.

It also calls for Transit Mixed Concrete Corporation to receive, as compensation for cancellation of the contracts, their fair-market value and the company's expenditures and covered liabilities in trying to bring the contracts into commercial production.

McKeon's wilderness bill - introduced in May as the Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wild Heritage Act - seeks to protect sweeping tracts of land in National Forest areas in California, including some in the Inyo National Forest and Angeles National Forest.

In September, the bill was heard by the Subcomittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.

Senate leader Harry Reid said he wants to call a lame-duck session, and McKeon's wilderness bill is part of the package he is going to push, said McKeon's deputy chief of staff Bob Haueter.

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