Today, Senator Scott Wilk, R-Antelope Valley, introduced Senate Bill 57 that would compel CEMEX to go through the state public appeals process if the federal government determines that CEMEX can move forward with its mega-mine in Soledad Canyon.
“The proposed CEMEX mega-mine would be one of the largest aggregate mines in the nation. The mine would devastate our air and water quality and choke the 14 Freeway,” stated Wilk. “Despite the magnitude of the project the public has been without an opportunity for input in over 25 years. SB 57 will guarantee the public has an opportunity to weigh in with regulators on this ill-conceived proposal.”
The proposed project, a 56 million ton sand and gravel mine, has been in the works for decades. SB 57 reopens public comment on the permitting application for the project’s water supply. Mine operators with the project have applied for permits through the California State Water Resources Control Board to draw about 105 million gallons of water annually from the Santa Clara River for use in their operations. Wilk said this bill would allow those impacted to have a voice in whether to approve those water permits.
Currently, CEMEX is awaiting a decision from the Department of the Interior as to whether the project can move forward as CEMEX has appealed previous decisions by the federal government to that agency. Federal law preempts state law, so there is little state government can do to stop the project, but state agencies have an ability to require mitigations that can protect the environment and residents’ health and quality of life.
Assemblymen Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, and Dante Acosta, R-Santa Clarita, joined Senator Wilk as principal co-authors of the measure.
“A project the size of the proposed CEMEX mine deserves to be properly vetted. This legislation ensures that vetting will happen and our community will get the answers it needs,” Lackey added.
Acosta stated, “I am proud to join with my colleagues in the region to address the critical issues surrounding the CEMEX gravel mining project in Soledad Canyon. I am committed to meeting the needs of the constituents of the 38th Assembly District, and this bill is a critical step in doing that.”
SB 57 will be referred by the Senate Rules Committee in February.