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The big myth about the Soledad Canyon mine

Posted: April 28, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: April 28, 2014 2:00 a.m.

You would think that a big push to develop a massive gravel mine would at least be backed up by one significant factor:

The need for one.

As we’ve written previously, the proposed 56-million-ton sand and gravel Cemex mine, just outside the city of Santa Clarita in Soledad Canyon, would cause significant and irreversible impacts on the wildlife corridors in and around the Santa Clara River and is a threat to the health, safety and welfare of thousands of Santa Clarita Valley residents.

It’s now clear that it’s also unnecessary.

That’s not just the opinion of those who oppose the mine because of its local impacts, including the Santa Clarita and our organization, Safe Action for the Environment Inc.

It’s also the opinion of the state of California’s Natural Resources Agency, whose chief has endorsed U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s bill, S. 771, co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

The bill would cancel the Cemex mining contracts and compensate the mining company via the sale of surplus lands near Victorville.

“This bill provides the city of Santa Clarita and Cemex USA the path forward to successfully resolve a nearly 15-year dispute involving sand and gravel contracts with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM),” says a letter from John Laird, secretary for California Natural Resources, in support of Boxer’s S. 771.

“(The bill) provides solutions for all parties engaged in this dispute and benefits an important watershed in Southern California.”

Further, as Laird’s staff has concluded, California doesn’t need the aggregate from this site.

In his testimony to a Senate subcommittee in November, Santa Clarita Councilman Bob Kellar pointed out that a 2012 study by the California Conservation Department — which falls under the umbrella of the California Natural Resources Agency — concluded that there is more than enough aggregate identified for mining throughout the state to meet construction needs for many years to come.

Kellar noted that the state report identifies non-permitted aggregate resources “representing six times the anticipated statewide demand.”

“Clearly,” said Kellar, “sand and gravel aggregate is not in short supply in California.”

In his support of S. 771, Secretary Laird made clear that there are other, more important priorities to consider when it comes to the proposed Soledad Canyon mining site.

“The city of Santa Clarita and its residents will greatly benefit from improved quality of life” if S. 771 is approved and the mine is stopped, Laird said.

“Cemex (would be) made whole for its canceled contracts in Santa Clarita through the proceeds of other public lands already identified for disposal.”

“Moreover,” Laird added, “the natural resources located adjacent to the Upper (Santa Clara) River, which contain critical riparian forest woodland and coastal sage scrub habitats, (would be) protected and conserved to the benefit of the region and downstream into Ventura County.”

Secretary Laird’s thoughtful and well-reasoned input on S. 771 leaves no doubt: California does not need a massive aggregate mine in Soledad Canyon, and moreover, the environmental impacts from pushing it through as proposed would be unacceptable, not only for the wildlife in the region but also for livestock and human inhabitants as well.

Our local representatives get it. The state’s secretary of natural resources gets it.

The BLM should follow suit.

However, there are powerful reasons for the BLM to continue standing in the way of S. 771, as it has been doing thus far in the legislative process. 

You see, the BLM doesn’t see the Soledad Canyon mining site for what it means to those of us who live here. Rather, the BLM sees it as a symbol of its power, as well as a source of income.

The royalties that could be generated by the mining site could help sustain the bureaucracy for many years to come, especially if the mining extends beyond what’s already permitted by the two 10-year consecutive Cemex contracts.

As far as the BLM is concerned, we’re going to get a massive gravel mine in Soledad Canyon — whether California needs one or not.

That’s what Boxer, Feinstein and their teams are up against in Washington, D.C., making it ever more important that we demonstrate community support for S. 771 in the coming weeks as we try to push the bill out of committee and toward the Senate floor. 

If you’d like to show your support for S. 771 — and send the message that California neither needs nor wants the BLM’s Soledad Canyon mega-mine, please visit to find out how to express your support for the bill.

It’s ironic, really. When it comes to Soledad Canyon, the BLM values a revenue stream more than it values an actual river. Let’s show them how wrong they really are.

Andrew Fried is president of Safe Action for the Environment Inc. To find more information regarding SAFE and S. 771, visit


OldReliable: Posted: April 28, 2014 5:08 a.m.

Obviously, we've all seen first hand recently in various cases across America that BLM's over-reaching actions are not in the public's best interest. CEMEX has been stymied for 15 years so now lets hope they go away ASAP!

ricketzz: Posted: April 28, 2014 6:10 a.m.

OldReliable thinks the junk he watches on the TV is real. What a larf.

nextdoorneighbor: Posted: April 28, 2014 10:42 a.m.

I don't have a dog in the fight about the Soledad Canyon mine. However, I do think it's wrong to mis-quote studies. The 2012 California Conservation Department stated as part of their conclusion, "The 31 study areas currently have about 4 billion tons of permitted reserves, which is about one third of the total projected 50-year aggregate demand identified for these study areas. This is about 5.5 percent of the total aggregate resources located within the 31 study areas."

Which means, "Clearly there is a pending shortage."

lars1: Posted: April 28, 2014 2:09 p.m.

The time for the CEMEX mine is NOW.
The chloride scam has been around for 25 years, about as long as the CEMEX scam. The need for a $100+ million water treatment plant, paid by the taxpayers, has arisen from the demands of the 20,000+ homes to be built in newhall ranch. the chloride limits have nothing to do with it!
The construction of these 20,000+ homes will require a lot of concrete. The CEMEX mine will provide the local source for the needed concrete.
The stooges have been fooling santa clarita for years. although they have "tried" to squash the mine, they have not accomplished any FINAL resolution. The 20+ "trips to Washington DC" by kellar and weste have only been made only to fatten themselves, accomplishing nada!

During the next 10 years of construction of newhall ranch, CEMEX will provide concrete, and our taxes will provide water. kellar and weste will use some of the concrete for effigies of themselves proclaiming the good things they have done for their big business and developer buddies.

Lotus8: Posted: April 28, 2014 3:48 p.m.

50-year studies are notoriously inaccurate. Heck, fifty years from now we may not be using concrete in the same ways or quantities that we do today. The real issue here is the destruction of air quality, destruction of road quality caused by heavily loaded trucks, the added truck traffic on the 5 freeway with more fully loaded aggregate haulers spewing pebbles all over the road to crack windshields as they plug up the pass going 10 miles per hour in the two right hand lanes, and on and on. No reasonable person living in the valley should want to ever see the mine opened. It will reduce property values and impact quality of life. Do we really need any other reason to oppose the project when a reasonable solution has been presented? I don't.

The entire western half of the United States is full of empty, sandy/rocky land that can provide more aggregate than we will ever need. Why do they have to mine it from our valley in close proximity to a thriving community? The simple answer is they don't. Yet for the reasons stated in the commentary above, it will be very hard for our politicians to actually prevent this mine from opening. The BLM, much like other government agencies at all levels (federal, state and local), is an entity committed to its own growth and survival. They say that if the actions of companies and government entities were evaluated in the same way as those of people, a psychologist would categorize them as psychopaths.

DavePutnam: Posted: April 29, 2014 12:42 p.m.

As this deal drags on, it has become pretty obvious to me that the reason that CEMEX own the property and can threaten to open a "mega-mine" is
a. because they can
b. because they see a potential to make a lot of money with relatively little effort

Owning the property and already having an agreement to essentially go ahead with the mine gives them a lot of good cards in their hands and a great way to bluff and raise the stakes. Since Rep. McKeon has failed to move the needle with his party's leadership, the money from the U.S. Government is not in play to help buy CEMEX out. The price tag on the buyout is no doubt astronomical and growing by the day. I don't think the City is really in a position to go it alone although I'm sure if it were up to the voters, they could make a run for it.

Allan_Cameron: Posted: April 29, 2014 12:43 p.m.

The idea that, on planet earth, sand and gravel could EVER be regarded as a "limited resource" is an audacious falsehood.

The policy stance cited by Mr. Fried is from a letter that represents the studied, official position of the State of California regarding the "need" for sand and gravel in this State.

Some minerals are in short supply. Sand and gravel are not among them.

That fact is why the State of California supports the passage of Senate Bill S771, as introduced by both of our United States Senators.

Mr. McKeon will define his legacy based on what happens to this bill in the House of Representatives.

NoLawAgainstCommonSense: Posted: May 5, 2014 4:37 p.m.

Allen Cameron, the geological fact that lots of sand and gravel exists on this planet does not equate with the existence of an economically viable source for any given market. In many places in this country, they ship aggregate in by barge because there is no local source. We are not so cursed, and yet if we listen to people like you, we will certainly become so.

I could go on and on about how disingenuous and deliberately bogus the above article is, but the actual state report on this topic is only 16 pages long. Mr. Fried must be convinced you won’t read it for yourself, because if you do, you will immediately understand not only that he is lying, but also that he takes for granted your complacency with regard to fact checking anything he says. In addition, you will know more about the issue than Mr. Fried ever wanted you to.

The "studied, official position" of the State of California presented in Secretary Laird's "thoughtful, well-reasoned letter" is that this mine "within" the City of Santa Clarita should be "moved to a more appropriate location." Not only does he contradict everything his department has ever said on the subject, he is misinformed about the physical location (2 miles away from Santa Clarita City limits). It's an existing mine, Curtis mined it for 20+ years, and last time I checked they don't move those. I can’t speculate on why he would write such a letter, but I can say that he is not likely to pay any political price for such nonsense, because people outside the valley just don’t care.

"The Big Myth" is an appropriate title for this article. By selective reporting, it attempts to support a conclusion which is exactly the opposite of reality. However, a better title would have been “Let’s Overthrow the Government and do Away With the Rule of Law to Stop the Cemex Mine.”

You can blame the BLM, you can blame Buck, but at the end of the day, they are not the appropriate target of your anger. Where do these issues get decided?

Oh snap, we have a thing called the courts.

The courts are where the City of Santa Clarita spent $8 million of our tax dollars trying to stop the mine without a single victory. The courts are where the same City was ordered to pay out another $450,000 to Cemex for bad faith litigation in 2006. Mr. Fried wants you to get mad at the BLM, but his worst enemy all along has been his own bad judgment. His second worst enemy has been the judiciary, up to and including the Supreme Court.

EveryoneCalmDown: Posted: May 5, 2014 8:47 p.m.

Wow. Thank you, NoLawAgainstCommonSense for posting the link to the AGGREGATE SUSTAINABILITY IN CALIFORNIA 2012 CALIFORNIA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY Department of Conservation report. That was an eye opener !
On page 7 the report indicates the San Fernando Valley / Saugus-Newhall area has :
a 50 Year demand of 476 Tons ;
77 Million tons Permitted Aggregate Reserves
10 or fewer years projected remaining.
If I understand correctly , the Soledad canyon mine will provide 56 of the 77 Million tons of permitted resources. So if Soledad Canyon does not open, that leaves only 21 million tons permitted in the region , and therefore Santa Clarita will be importing all of its sand and gravel from outside the region within 2-3 years ! --edited.

Allan_Cameron: Posted: May 11, 2014 10:55 p.m.

Perhaps the last two posters here may wish to disclose their true identities, so a context for their opinions might be available.

Mr. Fried has not deceived me. I have been honored to serve with him on the Board of Directors of Safe Action for the Environment for 15 years. I have read the report is question, along with thousands of other documents about this issue, for beyond the 15 years I mentioned.

The are many reasons why I have done this. For 34 years, I have been the President and CEO of the foremost real estate development entitlement planning company in northern Los Angeles County.

Projects in the planning pipeline 15 years ago were (and are) threatened by the effects of this mine. It may be helpful to understand that this mine is the largest sand and gravel mine ever proposed to the Federal Bureau of Land Management in United States History.

The costs associated with the documented effects of the mine are devastating. Just one of the projects entitled with the assistance of my firm is the Golden Valley Ranch Master Plan. This project is only a few short miles away from the mine proposal. The most prominent feature of the project is the Plaza at Golden Valley Ranch Regional Shopping Center, directly adjacent to the 14 freeway. The center is "anchored" by Kohls, Lowes Home Improvement, and Target.

The owners of this site almost abandoned the project because of this mine proposal. Many others all over north LA County have had the same apprehensions.

Without exception, these development projects shared the view of the State of California.

The availability of sand and gravel is of no concern to these developers.

The damage from the mega mine, however, was, and remains extremely significant to these development interests.

That is why over 105 elected officials, and 110 business, labor, environmental, governmental, educational, media, water providers and more organizations went on record in opposition to this mine.

Mr. Fried is spot on.

NoLawAgainstCommonSense: Posted: May 12, 2014 3:27 p.m.

I am sorry that you have been misinformed about the size of mines. There are five aggregate mines larger than the proposed CEMEX Soledad, not in the entire world, not in the united states, not in California, but in the San Gabriel Valley alone.

Please do a little more research.

Allan_Cameron: Posted: May 13, 2014 9:02 p.m.

Please do a little more research "common", and please understand the meaning of what you read.

From your comment saying that I am misinformed, it is clear, that, prior to your post above, such additional effort would have been of benefit to you.

Here, to repeat, is what I wrote, which you have mischaracterized.

"The CEMEX Sand and gravel mine is the largest sand and gravel mine ever proposed to the Federal Bureau of Land Management in United States History."

Needless to say, not all Sand and Gravel mines in the USA involve the Federal Bureau of Land Management.

Prior to any more "Pro Mine" postings, please do complete research.

In the postings section in the Signal regarding the letter sent to Buck McKeon by Steve Knight and Scott Wilk, there is additional information on the topic which you may find useful.

One more "old fact" which is ever new to those not familiar with it is as follows.

To the list of over 105 public elected officials, and more than 110 local, regional, State Wide, and National organizations who have gone on record indicating that this mine is not needed, these is an important addition.

This is the current owner of the mine itself.

This is of course, CEMEX.

CEMEX is the third owner of this proposed mine. They were proceeded by Transit Mixed Concrete and Southdown, Inc. TMC was purchased by Southdown, and Southdown was purchased by CEMEX.

In each case, this mine outrage was acquired as part of a far larger asset portfolio.

"Common" has not addressed the content of Senate Bill S771, introduced in the Senate by Senator Barbara Boxer, and Senator Dianne Feinstein.

This bill extinguishes not only the strange Santa Clarita mine proposal, but effectively all of the rest of the more than 100 years of non fractured aggregate "resource" in the area.

This aspect of the Bill was featured by quite distorted public testimony submitted to the Senate Sub-Committee on Energy and National Resources by none other than "spokespeople" from the Bureau Of Land Management itself.

CEMEX, the owner of this mine proposal itself, is a strong supporter of not opening the mine in return for the passage of S771. As the second largest sand and gravel company in the world, it is more than safe to assume that CEMEX knows what it is doing.

As a matter of fact, it is certain.

Giving up possible claims to a "strong position", in Los Angeles County, for the next one hundred years is what CEMEX now supports.


They know the mine is not really needed, and that there are numerous alternatives for market competitive sand and aggregate to serve Santa Clarita and the rest of Los Angeles County.

More research on this complex subject should resolve these questions for the miniscule number of people who may still have such questions.

Allan_Cameron: Posted: May 13, 2014 9:24 p.m.

By the way, "common" made a statement to the effect that "no one outside our valley" cares about this issue.

Again, research prior to a post offers real benefits.

Please see the posts below the Signal story about the letter from Steve Knight and Scott Wilk to Buck McKeon regarding highway 14.. There, please find just a partial list of the organizations and elected leaders that have gone on public record in opposition to this mega mine outrage.

In this partial list, readers will notice, of course, virtually all parts of Santa Clarita Valley unified in opposition.

Of equal, if not more significance, please also note the numerous organizations in Los Angeles County, The State of California, and all throughout the United States who also are on Public Record as dedicated opponents to the mine outrage.

Please also note that the 40 listings are only slightly more than one third of the total publically declared mine opponents.

The balance of the list of mine opponents also includes local, Southern California, State Wide, and National organizations.

Again, good research generates credible comments.

tech: Posted: May 13, 2014 11:26 a.m.

"Perhaps the last two posters here may wish to disclose their true identities, so a context for their opinions might be available."

Translation: Your papers, please. I will assign value to your posts according to who you are rather than by content of same. If necessary, I'll conduct opposition research on you in an attempt to poison the well*.


Allan_Cameron: Posted: May 13, 2014 11:43 a.m.

By the way, in another post as part of another Signal story, mine advocate "no law against common sense (a false name that oozes irony) features a link to a 13 year old opinion piece (certainly not a news story)from January 21, 2001 in the Los Angeles Times.

This Times editorial is an astounding piece of propaganda. It is strongly pro mine for Santa Clarita. It is also highly inaccurate.

As only one example of dozens of factual omissions and errors, the opinion piece completely omits the fact that the TMC mine (by then already Southdown's) was soon to be before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for a stunning reason.

Just a few weeks before this LA Times piece, the surface mining permit needed from LA County for the mine to operate was before the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission, where the mining permit had been the subject of four public hearings that lasted for over a year. (I attended all of them).

The five County Planning Commissioners, representing all five districts, each with 2 million people, voted unanimously, 5 to zero to DENY the surface mining permit.

Southdown had to bring the permit to the Board of Supervisors on an appeal, asking that the 5 to zero denial be overturned.

The Times piece attempted to define the opposition as being just from
Santa Clarita, completely ignoring the Planning Commission for all of Los Angeles County's unanimous denial vote.

When the hearing before the Board of Supervisors happened, the mine opposition was overwhelming. The County Board room seats 780 people. It was filled to capacity, standing room only, with mine opponents. This hearing happened in Downtown Los Angeles at 9:30AM on a Tuesday.

In addition to the full room, hundreds more filled the plaza outside, and at least one hundred trucks, driven by drivers falsely depicted elsewhere as being "pro mine" drove around the block blowing their air horns to show their mine opposition.

When "common" cited this link to the 13 year old Times Editorial, he/she made yet another incorrect assumption. This assumption was that all the mine opponents were somehow unfamiliar with this old piece. (To the new born babe, the rising sun is a first time experience).

We knew, in advance in 2000, 2001 that the LA Times was going to come out against us. Please see next post.

Allan_Cameron: Posted: May 13, 2014 11:57 a.m.

At the time of the Los Angeles Times pro mine editorial, (again, cited by "Common" as if no one but she/he knew of it) the LA Times was half owner of the Fort Tejon ranch. This ranch, the largest privately held property in California, is larger in area than the entire City of Los Angeles, over 450 square miles.

The mine proponents were desperate (and still are) to convey the audacious falsehood that sand and gravel are in short supply. The Times, then deeply involved in development plans for Fort Tejon, bought the lie.

Hence this old editorial.

Allan_Cameron: Posted: May 13, 2014 12:14 p.m.

Someone falsely named "Tech" tries to make a baseless case against why knowing who is speaking is a critical part of evaluating the truth of what is being said.

When hiders speak, the question of motive is not available for examination.

As proof of this, attend a personal injury or product liability court trial.

There, all will see a disturbing display. Prestigious experts will be seen taking the witness stand. They will testify under oath under penalty of perjury.

The "experts" for the plaintiffs will absolutely contradict the "experts" testifying for the defense.


Each side strokes the hand that pays them.

Imagine if such so called experts spoke behind a dark veil, and no one knew who was paying them or who they were.

This example speaks to the fact that all the people who post here behind such "veils" can never achieve any credibility.

tech: Posted: May 13, 2014 12:36 p.m.

It's not baseless, Mr. Cameron. See my link regarding your fallacious insistence.

Your response makes my point, i.e. "motives", "strokes the hand that pays them", "dark veils", etc.

FYI, this is an online comment section of an opinion column in a local newspaper, not a civil trial. I advise you to relinquish your obsession about how others manage their online privacy in alignment with the forum owner's policy. It detracts from your message.

Despite this and your posts containing appeals to popularity, etc., I support a legislative solution to the CEMEX mine. All parties appear to agree, save one. The BLM wants the royalties from a private entity and won't accept anything less than extracting them over the expressed will of the citizens they purport to represent. This bureaucracy needs legislative clarity on how our Republic functions.

ricketzz: Posted: May 14, 2014 6:45 a.m.

I support a cash settlement to Cemex. The [hades] with government. They are so corrupt as to be incapable of helping anyone but The Corporation.

NoLawAgainstCommonSense: Posted: May 15, 2014 11:55 p.m.

I want to thank you Allan_Cameron for the feedback and state for the record that what you have written is not that bad for a person who recently called a gravel mine a "holocaust" (on that different article).

Your points about the Los Angeles Times, the BLM, and anyone who ever wore the judges robes in this country, being engaged in a conspiracy against the value of your personal real estate portfolio is well taken.

I am not pro-mine, I am pro-economy and pro-environment. As I have said many times, the economic and environmental cost is much, much greater if the mine is cancelled, due to longer haul distances. This is an irrefutable fact that I think people may not fully appreciate. I notice you scrupulously avoid commenting on it, possibly because as someone who claims to completely understand this issue and all of its implications, you know full well that you can’t win on the merits of your position.

I find it revealing that you pounced on my oversight when I pointed out that there are 5 bigger gravel mines today in the San Gabriel Valley, a place which is more heavily populated than Santa Clarita. I was pointing out that your statement about "the largest mine ever proposed in the History of the United States" or something to that effect was false and hyperbolic. You got excited and pointed out that you had said the biggest "BLM-administered mine" in United States history.

I didn’t notice you had inserted that limitation, and I don't know if those bigger mines are BLM-administered or not. It has no bearing on the substance of our disagreement. What I find interesting is that in this example, you inadvertently lay bare the method being used to disseminate disinformation: by making an alarmist statement, with the clear intent to mislead your intended audience, which, even if technically true, is due to some esoteric (and totally irrelevant) detail.

NoLawAgainstCommonSense: Posted: May 15, 2014 12:00 a.m.

(still reading?? thanks for that.)

Allen_Cameron, let's review those areas where we can't seem to agree, shall we?

We disagree about the impacts of the mine: I say they are so minimal as to be almost unnoticeable, you say they are akin to "the holocaust."
We disagree about the value of the mine: I think it is probably worth multiple billions of dollars in savings to all buyers of the aggregate we consume, especially if you include some estimate of the cost of releasing millions of additional tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, while you believe it is "worthless."
After reading publicly available publications of the State, I am convinced the mineral deposit is a quite rare example of the very highest quality aggregate, and we in Santa Clarita need it and the region needs it. You think that this resource is “unnecessary.”
I think (again due to what I read in state reports) that many alternatives were considered and determined to be infeasible, and that if there is a substitute, our state scientists have yet to locate it. You claim that substitutes for this local and incredibly massive deposit are “abundant”, although you decline to state any specifics. You advocate that the quality of life of our citizens would benefit tremendously if this mine were re-located to “where poor people live.”
I think that people who feel entitled to always get their way should not necessarily always get their way, because they might well drag our entire country to hell in a handbasket. You think that the ends justify the means, and the ends are of course that your real estate will be worth more, by any means necessary.
I think people should accept that if they bought property next to a mine, or under the flight path of an airport for that matter (a nod to a genius who used the moniker "NoAirportPeople"), that they have absolutely no right to try to change that after the fact. You feel differently.

People feel lied to because mine opponents, posing as advocates for the environment, have been feeding them alarmist garbage with the intent of misleading.

The BLM's job is to look at the realities of the big picture, not to pander to the often irrational desires of each and every citizen.

I keep pointing out items because it seems to me that very few people understand these fundamentals. I myself was shocked when it began to dawn on me that this was a total, irredeemable scam of epic proportions. But if, like Allen_Cameron, you claim to understand all of this, and yet support paying CEMEX a huge amount of our tax money not to mine, not to create jobs, and to pollute the environment of the region dramatically, all to protect precious "habitat" which is in reality an existing mine, I am hard pressed to understand why. For what imagined benefit could that possibly be worthwhile? I don't support paying more taxes unless there is a good reason. I support common sense for the greater good.

Allan_Cameron: Posted: May 15, 2014 3:18 a.m.

I neglected to mention what occurred after the unanimous 5 to zero denial vote of the mine by the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission.

Prior to the appeal hearing, Southdown sued the County of Los Angeles for denying them their surface mining permit.

So, when the appeal hearing before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors took place, it was with the intimidation tactic of a Federal Court lawsuit hanging over the heads of the five Supervisors. I have already written here about much of what happened at that hearing.

The Board of Supervisors upheld the denial vote of their Planning Commission by a three to two vote majority. So much for "commons" contention that no one outside Santa Clarita cares about this mine.

The two supervisors who voted to reverse did so for a reason that refutes all of the "reasoning" of the anonymous mine advocate "quite uncommon". They were San Gabriel Valley Supervisor Gloria Molina, and south county supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke.

Their reasoning? They felt (correctly), that both of their districts had been victimized more than enough by sand and gravel mining.

Please see next post.

Allan_Cameron: Posted: May 15, 2014 4:38 a.m.

My position, and the position of the City of Santa Clarita (and the other 110 opponent organizations) was never, ever to continue to burden other populated communities with the unmitigated damage of sand and gravel mining.

The positive solution agreed to by all was that mining continue, or be established in unpopulated areas, and that the product be transported to urban and expanding areas by rail.

This pro mine hidden "commons" poster resorts to invention, when no facts or history, or simple accurate factual assessment is available. An example among many are the following two quotes from this person:

1. "This is an irrefutable fact that I think that people may not fully appreciate". Which "people" among the 105 elected public officials (and their staffs), or the more than 110 organizations on record as against the mine missed something, do you suppose? Care to list who you think they are?

2. "You advocate that the quality of Life of our citizens would benefit tremendously if this mine were relocated to "where poor people live".

Regarding quote one. Please stop wasting your time with me. Contact all seven of the Santa Clarita Valley School Districts who are on record as opposed to this mine. Ask to appear before each of them on the agenda at one of their public meetings. Make you case before each. See if any are willing to adopt your point of view.

Do the same before the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Santa Clarita Valley Industry Association. Try the same with the California, San Fernando Valley, and Santa Clarita Valley Associations of Realtors. If you make headway with just these few, try all the rest of the 110 organizations that are mine opponents.

You clearly have important information everyone else has missed during these past 15 years.

Continue on with the local Sierra Club, the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter, and the National Sierra Club.

After that effort, write a column for the Signal and share the results you produced.

Regarding quote two.

This person places quotes around part of the phrase "relocated to where poor people live". This "quote" is "attributed" to me.

It is a lie. I have never said such a thing on any of these posts, or at any time in my life.

Insults, lies, distortions and the like are the tactics of the desperate and the defeated.

I got up at this early hour to get needed work accomplished, and I must return to it.

However, these amazing assertions have served a useful purpose. In the very near future, Safe Action for the Environment, Inc. the Sierra Club and the other seven regional and national environmental organizations on record against this mine will join again to tell everyone the facts.

In the meantime, a phone number for me is 818-634-8669.

ricketzz: Posted: May 15, 2014 7:19 a.m.

This is way too much drama over a limestone rock. If they can't operate without contaminating the river they can't operate.

Allan_Cameron: Posted: May 15, 2014 2:39 p.m.

I wish that the contention that "If they can't operate without contaminating the river they can't operate", were true. Quite sadly, it is not.

Anonymous opinion purveyor and mine supporter "commons" indicates, with a note of derisive triumph that the City of Santa Clarita lost its court actions. These loses validate the lawyers epigram "To find a bad lawyer, find a judge".

The all important details of the court actions will take a bit of text here,(as with the truth regarding the environmental travesty) and I have to get back to work. Here goes.

In the actual opening paragraphs of the BLM mining contract, language in plain English states and actually lists all of the many State and local permits the holder of the mining contract must obtain for the contracts to be considered valid.

The contract also states that if the mining contract holder seeks and does not obtain even one of these many permits, that the contracts will be considered void.

Most of the permits spelled out in the contract were discretionary, not ministerial.

The difference between the two types of permits is crucial.

"Discretionary" means what it implies. Any agency issuing any such a permit has, within its sole authority the right to issue or withhold such permits.

"Ministerial" permits, which were few among those in the BLM mine contract, are quite different. As long as certain legal requirements can be shown to be met, the issuing agency must issue them.

Among the "discretionary" permits listed in the BLM contract were the following:

1. A Surface Mining Permit from Los Angeles County.
2. Several more from various California State agencies, again all spelled out in the Bureau of Land Management Mining Contract as being necessary to obtain. (My copies of these documents are in my storage facility, so this is from memory).

The County of Los Angeles had sole ability to determine what kind of Environmental study would be necessary before any surface mining permit could be issued. Of the four main categories of California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) compliance studies needed to be conducted, the County, using standard investigation protocols, deemed that the most rigorous (a full Environmental Impact Report) needed to be performed. Please see next post.

Allan_Cameron: Posted: May 15, 2014 3:14 p.m.

The lawsuit filed against the County of Los Angeles in Federal Court by Southdown was cunning.

First, it did not assert that the CEQA EIR was adequate.

Second, it did not dispute the adequacy or necessity of any of the "damage mitigations" spelled out in the CEQA EIR.

Third, it did not disagree with any of the massive findings in the EIR as to how much damage the mine would create. (even though those were understated)

The lawsuits only premise was that any and all actions by any State or local agency to "condition" the mine, withhold discretionary permits, or virtually any other action, were barred by Federal law.

This premise was radical and unprecedented.

It was (and is) a distorted view of a theory known as "Federal Pre-emption". A simple statement of this "principle" is that Federal law "pre-empts" any and all State or local laws.

This was despite the fact that the need for State and local permits to be obtained was a binding condition clearly stated in the contracts issued by the Federal Bureau of Land Management itself.

Meanwhile, while the Federal case was progressing, the City of Santa filed a legal challenge against the adequacy of the California State CEQA Environmental Impact Report. This was filed in California State Court, which was the proper legal venue.

To short circuit many of the interesting events that went on for a few years, the Federal case was assigned to a judge (now retired) named Dickran Trevesian. This man was known to be a fanatic in favor of the concept of "Federal Pre-emption of any and all State laws".

Please see next post.

Allan_Cameron: Posted: May 15, 2014 3:42 p.m.

Southdown (the then mine owner) played another clever card.

It asked "Dickran" to exercise a seldom used, but legal gambit.

Since there was a separate California Superior Court case in progress(brought by the City of Santa Clarita about the EIR sufficiency) at the same time as the Federal "pre-emption" case was in court, Southdown asked that both cases be "consolidated" and "taken up" to the "higher" Federal Court.

Dickran was pleased to comply.

This was a disaster for the City. CEQA is complex. It has been modified by extensive State Court Case law. CEQA litigation is only handled by CEQA lawyers for whom it is their specialty.

Moreover, only two judges in Los Angeles County are ever assigned CEQA cases.

Why? Because understanding all the CEQA Case law requires such specialization and experience.

So, how many California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) lawsuits had this Federal judge ever had in front of him before?


When he needed advice (which was all the time), without exception, he ignored the legal team from the City of Santa Clarita, and only listened to Southdown's lawyers as to what rulings he should issue.

As a final result, here is what this man did.

He ruled that all California State, Los Angles County, Special District and other laws did not, and could not apply to this mine.

Please see next post as to why the Santa Clara river, source of drinking water for 1.3 million people is not safe.

Allan_Cameron: Posted: May 15, 2014 4:11 p.m.

"Dickran" specifically ordered the County of Los Angeles to reverse its decision of denial, and to issue the mine a Surface Mining Permit.

"Dickran" ordered Los Angeles County to certify the CEQA EIR as being complete. He dismissed all of the staggeringly thorough causes from the City of Santa Clarita as to why the studies and mitigation measures to protect the public were defective as a matter of State law.

"Dickran" also ruled, that despite the specified requirements for the obtaining of the list of local permits (one for certain was from the California State Department of Fish and Wildlife) listed in the Federal Mining Contracts, that the mine did not have to really get any of them.


"Dickran" upheld his career long conviction that local laws could not stop any activity based on a Federal Law. So, in this case he essentially ordered that all State and Local agencies must issue any permits that were within their jurisdictions, even if State and statutory law indicated that they were "discretionary", and could be with held. This ruling was, of course, in absolute violation of the BLM Federal contracts themselves.

No Matter.

Another abrogated permit was from the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

So, despite the fact that the main channel of the Santa Clara River is about 150 feet below, and about 400 feet away from the active areas of mining, there is no guaranteed protection for the river.

The Santa Clara River is one of the main areas of critical habitat that the poster "commons" dismisses as being as of no consequence. All of these issues are fully laid forth in the full EIR, especially with the hundreds of comments from so many of the opponents. I wonder if "commons" would admit that she/he? has never seen or read it.

Very very sorry "Ricketts" to be the bearer of such news.

However, this is only one of many, many other reasons why this mine outrage must be stopped, and can be now, if only S771 is passed by congress.


ricketzz: Posted: May 16, 2014 6:31 a.m.

One "t", two "z"s. That was it? No appeal?

Allan_Cameron: Posted: May 16, 2014 12:54 p.m.

Hi "Ricketzz (and others interested in the truth about this mine crisis)

I have omitted countless critical details about the mine history. Refuting the truly astounding assertions of who ever "common" may be (all deadly deficient) regarding air pollution and the other major economic and environmental damage areas (like multi-billion dollar water degradation) is not the proper subject for wildly distorted mini-paragraphs. It is a major undertaking. The air quality section alone of the mine EIR is at least 200 pages long. I am short on time.

If I must, I will get the truth out (again) on these subjects. I, of course, am far, far from being the only person who understands this issue. There are hundreds more who know as much or more about this than I do. They just do not have the discretionary use of time available to me. "Common" practices a particular frequently found combination of innocence and arrogance. Just because he/she? knows little about this complicated issue, she/he assumes that that his/her level of knowledge applies to all others. It doesn't.

Sadly, in addition to my work responsibilities, there is actual work still to be done to get this mine issue finished. Also there is the voting rights crisis, and the mega hundred million dollar chloride fraud.

But here is the answer regarding appeals.

Yes, the City of Santa Clarita used every legal device available.

Appeals were filed with the Federal Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit. In addition to these appeals, the City resorted to the "nuclear option", rarely if ever attempted. They filed a formal motion to have Judge "Dickran" disqualified from further hearing of the case based on demonstrated bias.

The 9the Circuit declined to hear the Appeals, and the attempt to have "Dickran" set aside was denied.

It is helpful to note the context for this special set of actions. A Federal Court judge was being asked to rule that the Federal Government itself (his boss) should be restricted in the exercise of its power and authority. That presents both a practical, legal, and emotional conflict of interest that "Dickran" simply would not acknowledge or overcome.

Again, this is why the passage of Senate Bill S771, as sponsored by both Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein is so important.

It would be wrong not to acknowledge the positive role that the CEMEX company has played in this crisis.

They never proposed this mine. They acquired it as part of a huge purchase of the Southdown Company.

Their willingness to give up this mine is decent and statesman like. It also shows, more than all "argument" ever could just how unimportant this mine is to the issue of "sand and gravel" supply for Southern California and the southwest.

ricketzz: Posted: May 18, 2014 7:05 a.m.

How much profit was anticipated at the time the deal was made? How much have we already spent?

ricketzz: Posted: May 19, 2014 7:04 a.m.

Can't we solve this the American Way (i.e. bribery and hookers?)

Allan_Cameron: Posted: May 19, 2014 1:09 p.m.

Hi Richetzz. Sorry I have not gotten back to you regarding your question about how much profit the mine would generate for the mining contract holder, and what the amount spent on opposing the mine has been.

To get you the precise answer you (and everyone else) deserve, I would have to spend a lot of time I just do not have right now to confirm research done years ago. All that material is in storage. I can only give you approximations, which are not good enough.

I know the number spent by the City of Santa Clarita, the seven area school districts, the SCV Water Agencies, The Sierra Club, Safe Action for the Environment, Inc. (SAFE) and many more of the opponents (major labor unions, etc.) has been in the tens of millions.

Compared to the economic damage that the mine would cause, it has been a pittance.

Just one multi-billion dollar example among many. The mine site is quite close to, and above the main channel of the Santa Clara River.

Endemic to the design of this specific mine site are two certain sources of river water and ground water contamination. As revealed by the soils studies conducted as part of the California Environmental Quality Act Environmental Impact Report (CEQA EIR), the soils that contain the aggregate also harbor significant levels of toxic contaminants, such as asbestos, arsenic, and heavy metals. The mine also uses huge amounts of water.

The mine design as proposed by TMC just creates huge mountains of by product that just sits on site, and also create so called "debris basins" that are supposed to capture toxic waste water on site, so it can "evaporate". Of course, what is left behind in these basins is also highly toxic.

These toxics remain safely "bound" in the mountain, until the mining process releases them.

In high rain fall events, these mountains of "by product", and the "debris basin" solids always overflow. With this mine, that means directly into the main channel of the Santa Clara River.

The Santa Clara is a primary source of drinking water for 1.3 million people, all the way to the Pacific. Please see next post.

Allan_Cameron: Posted: May 19, 2014 1:26 p.m.

In our Country, we are often guilty of thinking only in the short term.

As a local example, the Whitaker Bermite 998 acre site in the center of town freely dumped toxics on that property for at least 75 years. Now we know that the poisons from that former time are in our local groundwater.

The cost to clean up contaminated ground water is mind boggling.

The contamination of the Santa Clara River from this mine is not an "if" question. It is only a "when" question.

The contamination may take a long time to happen, or it could happen fast.

Cleaning it up would easily cost into the billions of dollars. Who would pay for it?

As for perhaps more immediate and specific answers to your two questions, "R", perhaps you might call Mike Murphy, the Intergovernmental Officer for the City of Santa Clarita, and ask him. Mike has been in charge of the City's work on this issue for years, and has done amazing work.

Call the City at 661-259-2489, and ask for him.

Again, support for Senate Bill S771 is what is needed. Call, write, email your support to the members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

ricketzz: Posted: May 20, 2014 7:41 a.m.

We should settle for cash over the length of the contract; the amount paid will be renegotiated up or down depending on the aggregate demand for aggregate, at regular intervals. I'm not sure I believe your figure of 1.3 million people, but my water (Pinetree) is directly from the river about 2 miles downstream from the quarry. But then again there's already a cement kiln at the bottom of my hill.

ricketzz: Posted: May 23, 2014 7:17 a.m.

On the flip side, if it still happens it'll keep this side of town from turning into another Valencia. There's a silver lining in every gray cloud.

By the way, they took down a huge limestone rock in Colton (I think) back in the '90s, right next to the 10 freeway and the train tracks. What were the effects there? Did anyone study that to death?

Allan_Cameron: Posted: May 23, 2014 12:13 p.m.

The City of Azusa City Council took a position about this mine in Santa Clarita that is definitive and amazing.

As many may know, the City of Azusa in the San Gabriel Valley has had significant sand and gravel mining for a very long time. I have visited both Azusa and its neighbor Irwindale on several occasions to see just what an area with mining is like.

These trips made it clear that Santa Clarita needed to learn from the tragic example of these two Cities.

Hauling of sand and aggregate by rail from unpopulated areas would offer salvation to all three Cities.

None the less, at the Public Hearing before the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, where Southdown was mounting what would be a vain attempt to have the Planning Commission denial of the mine overturned, an astounding thing happened.

The entire City Council of the City of Azusa was in attendance. They actually had publically "noticed" an Azusa City Council meeting to take place along with the Board of Supervisors Meeting in downtown LA.

I was scared by this. "Divide and conquer" tactics are often tried, and occasionally work. A huge mine in Santa Clarita could cause mines in the Eastern San Gabriel Valley mines to reduce their terrible destructive effects.

I fully expected to hear the Azusa City Council to support opening the Santa Clarita mine, so that they could get relief at long last.

What they actually said was the opposite.

The Mayor of Azusa detailed at some length the devastation they have so long suffered from mining. I thought "now comes the support for 'our' mine."

Instead, the Mayor asked that the mine in Santa Clarita be denied again. He said this request was the official position of the City of Azusa.

This elegant, powerful plea centered on decency and ethics. They could not, in any way, support having what was being done to them ever inflicted on other human beings.

When this man concluded, tears were in my eyes, and these fine Azusa people received the ovation they deserved from the over 780 Santa Clarita people in attendance.

Frankly, after Senate Bill S771 is passed, we all need to follow through and assist Azusa in getting its "days of hell" mining experiences finally concluded.

As far as that large rock in Colton is concerned, I am not aware of that situation. Maybe Mike Murphy at the City of Santa Clarita might know. Of course, you get jump in, call Colton, and share what you find out.

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