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UPDATE: Anti-Cemex mine petition collects more than 3,500 signatures

Posted: February 13, 2013 1:31 p.m.
Updated: February 13, 2013 6:03 p.m.

A local petition against the proposed open-pit Cemex mine in Soledad Canyon collected 3,588 signatures and is now in the hands of federal legislators, a local group said Wednesday.

Safe Action for the Environment Inc., a local advocacy group, started the petition late last year in support of a bill introduced by Democratic California Sen. Barbara Boxer in 2011, said Andrew Fried, the president of the group.

Boxer’s bill, which never came to a vote during the congressional session, would have allowed the Cemex mining site in Soledad Canyon to be swapped for federal land in the high desert near Victorville.

Such a land swap would require congressional approval because the federal government issued permits for the mine.

Though the group fell short of its goal of 5,000 signatures, Fried said, the level of participation shows a good amount of local support for similar legislation.

“We’ve been at this for 13 years,” Fried said. “So what we’re looking for is to buttress support for a legislative solution to this issue.”

Boxer’s bill is a repackaged version of a bill that was introduced several times without success by Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita.

It died as the last congressional term ended in December.

Zachary Coile, a Boxer spokesman, said the senator plans to reintroduce the legislation early this year.

“Passing this bill to stop the mine in Soledad Canyon is a top priority for Senator Boxer,” Coile said. “She has been working with Santa Clarita officials, Cemex officials and federal officials on a pathway for moving the bill in this Congress.”

McKeon said Wednesday that he continues to support the language of the bill.

“I have been engaged in an aggressive and comprehensive effort with all involved stakeholders, including Senator Boxer, to determine a solution to stop this mine,” McKeon said.

Fried said the group sent the results of the petition to several federal legislators, including Boxer, McKeon, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden and Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Wyden is the chairman and Murkowski is the ranking Republican member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

The petition also was sent to state legislators.
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