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Thousands sign anti-mine petition online

Environmental group’s post supports Sen. Boxer’s bill that would stop Cemex from mining

Posted: April 6, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 6, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Close to 100 people every day, on average, are signing an online petition to stop Cemex mining in Soledad Canyon.

The petition drafted by the group Safe Action for the Environment Inc. calls on people opposed to the Mexican construction materials company mining in Soledad Canyon to sign its petition to support Senator Barbara Boxer’s Senate Bill S. 759.

“We posted the petition online March 9, and we have 2,642 signatures on the petition today,” said group spokesman Andrew G. Fried. “If we can get enough people involved and get them to sign the petition, then it will help push this thing forward.”

Fried and his group plan to give the petition, with what they hope is its convincing number of signatures, to Boxer, Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, and the Senate Committee of Energy and Natural Resources.

The goal is to get at least 5,000 signatures, and, after one month, the group is more than half way there.

Santa Clarita city officials and residents of Canyon Country have long opposed the mine, for which Cemex won permits some 20 years ago. The mine would extract 56 million tons of sand and gravel from 500 acres of land over 20 years.

Opponents say it would compromise air quality and load Highway 14 with potentially gravel-spewing trucks.

Cemex officials told The Signal last week that the company still hopes the Boxer bill will be passed.

It has twice extended deadline talks with Santa Clarita city officials and agreed to keep the dialogue going until at least the end of May.

Local leaders unanimously support the bill; the problem is with Washington.

“The whole thing could have been resolved last year,” Fried said Thursday. “The stars were all in alignment; everyone wanted this bill.

“It’s too bad our congressman wasn’t willing to push the matter,” Fried said, referring to McKeon’s decision not to introduce a bill in the House of Representatives this session due to a GOP ban on earmarks.

Since at least 2004, McKeon has proposed congressional legislation to block the Cemex mine by banning mining in Soledad Canyon. But the measure has never passed.

Fried and his group hope the petition will un-jam what Washington officials last week referred to as legislation “gridlock” which stops bills from being heard.

Under the Boxer bill, if Cemex abandons the Soledad Canyon mine, it will be compensated through the sale of three specific tracts of land north of Victorville and just west of Interstate 15.

The land is owned by the federal government, managed by the Bureau of Land Management and deemed “surplus land” already identified as disposable.


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