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Ask the Expert

Signal Photos

 

Our View: Santa Clarita not a mining town

Posted: August 7, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: August 7, 2011 1:30 a.m.
 

It’s been roughly 21 years since a large-scale mining proposal first came to be in the SCV. Life in the valley has changed dramatically since then, but things could take a turn for the worse pretty soon if residents don’t make their opinions known.

The gist of the issue is that the Transit Mixed Concrete company obtained two consecutive 10-year federal mining contracts in 1990 for Soledad Canyon.

TMC was later bought out by Southdown, and then eventually Cemex, the huge Mexico-based building-materials supplier.

Those contracts were passed down the company-ownership line, and they start when operations commence.

Since that time, our numbers have swelled, expansion has been massive and our urbanization is undeniable. This is not the venue for a big mining project.

And our city officials, state representatives and even Cemex agree.

Enter pending Senate bill 759 by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

In short, the bill will allow the secretary of the interior to compensate Cemex at a fair market value for its Soledad Canyon contracts.

And the plan won’t cost the American people a dime for the compensation, as it will come from the sale of Bureau of Land Management selling off 10,244 acres of federal land just outside of Victorville.

This is a win-win-win scenario because we don’t want large-scale mining in the valley, Cemex doesn’t want to be here if it isn’t welcome and Victorville wants the sale to go through.

But we must push for the passage of the bill to cancel the Soledad Canyon contracts before the end of the year — the end of the agreed-upon truce period between Cemex and city officials — or else the SCV will suffer the annoyances and health effects of having a pit mine in the valley.

SCV residents will be forced to share our already battered and beleaguered roadways with an inundation of large gravel trucks loaded with materials known to pelt commuter cars from time to time.

And, as city officials said at a recent meeting with The Signal Editorial Board, air quality will worsen from a mixture of truck exhaust and fine particulate matter blown across the region from our consistently high winds.

With the current levels of air pollution, along with soot and smoke blown around each summer from local wildfires, the addition of a large-scale pit mine will only harm those in the valley with breathing issues, and it will make outdoor activities less enjoyable and potentially dangerous.

SB 759 keeps our way of life intact by not only moving Cemex out of the area, but it also prohibits any future mining contracts of that scale in Soledad Canyon.

This is our last chance to keep the mining from going on in our backyard. If we don’t succeed in getting it passed, Cemex will move into the valley by about 2015, and we’ll be known as a dusty mining town for the next 20 years.

We applaud the cooperation of the multiple governmental agencies working together for everyone’s benefit, and we thank Cemex for its patience in working out a deal that appeases all parties.

But the 11th hour is upon us, and this bill is the best way to avoid potential disaster environmentally and economically for the valley.

Write letters to, email and call Sens. Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, and the Bureau of Land Management.

Speak up, be vocal and be persistent to save the valley from a dark, dusty future.

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