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Victorville delays vote on Cemex bill

City wants more information on land-swap bill supported by Santa Clarita

Posted: January 18, 2012 6:49 p.m.
Updated: January 18, 2012 6:49 p.m.
 


The Victorville City Council this week tabled support for a bill that would stop a large-scale gravel mine in Soledad Canyon, saying it needs more information on the bill.

Santa Clarita officials had asked the Victorville City Council to support Senate legislation aimed at halting the proposed Cemex sand and gravel mine. Santa Clarita Intergovernmental Affairs Officer Mike Murphy said it was important that the city of Victorville support the legislation.

"I think that the primary importance in terms of having the city of Victorville support the bill is that they are referenced in the legislation and they have previously supported previous legislation," Murphy said.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., introduced the Soledad Canyon High Desert, California Public Lands Conservation Management Act in April that would stop mining company Cemex from building a mine on 500 acres of land in Soledad Canyon. The mine would extract 56 million tons of sand and gravel over 20 years.

In exchange for banning mining in Soledad Canyon, the Bureau of Land Management would buy back the contracts it granted to Cemex in 1990 by selling BLM land outside Victorville. The proceeds from the sale would go to Cemex and for acquiring and protecting environmentally sensitive lands in the region.

The bill is currently awaiting a hearing in a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

While the city of Victorville passed a resolution in 2008 that supported a previous version of the bill that was proposed by Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, some current members of the Victorville City Council had concerns about the new bill Tuesday night.

One of their concerns was that the city would lose some of its influence in discussing what will be done with the lands once they are sold, and that the county of San Bernardino would gain more influence over the lands.

Council members were also concerned that they didn't have enough information on the differences between the previously supported McKeon bill and the one proposed by Boxer.

They asked to schedule a workshop with both cities, representatives from Boxer's office, the BLM, and both Cemex and TXI Riverside Cement - a mining company that operates in San Bernardino County that voiced concerns about the potential land swap at Tuesday's meeting.

Santa Clarita Mayor Laurie Ender, who attended the meeting on behalf of the city, said Wednesday that the city was happy to attend a workshop to answer all of Victorville's questions about the legislation.

A time for the workshop will be set at a later date.

 

 

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