Residents worried about the possibility of gravel trucks pulling in and out of Soledad Canyon, should Cemex be allowed to mine there, should know one way or the other if that’s going to happen by April 2018.
Estimates as to when federal administrative judges reviewing Cemex’s appeal of the permit-pulling decision, made by the Bureau of Land Management in July 2015, will render their decision could be as early as August or as late as April next year.
“We’re in a holding pattern at the moment,” Michael Murphy, Santa Clarita’s intergovernmental relations manager told The Signal Monday.
“We were told at the outset, that it is not unusual for the process to take between two to two and a half years,” he said. “Two years would be August and two and a half years, February.
In August 2015, Cemex appealed the decision made by to rescind its mining contracts to the Interior Board of Land Appeals after the Bureau of Land Management squashed their right to mine the area in March 2015
The board’s decision will be the final word from the U.S. Department of the Interior, but the ruling may still be appealed to federal court.
As to when that decision will be announced remains unclear.
On Monday, the board announced a decision it reached in having reviewed a similar appeal filed by another gravel company.
The decision involving Pacific Northwest Aggregates Inc. was rendered Monday – 31 months after the company filed its own appeal.
If the Cemex case takes as long, then the board’s decision is likely to be rendered in April 2018.
Murphy told The Signal Monday that comparing the Cemex case to the Pacific Northwest Aggregates case is “not unreasonable.”
The BLM awarded Cemex two contracts in 1990 to extract 56 million tons of sand and gravel from hundreds of acres in Soledad Canyon in Canyon Country.
More than two decades later, in December 2014, the mining company informed Santa Clarita it would begin work to update those permits needed to start digging, but the bureau announced its decision to pull all of Cemex’s mining permits in March 2015
The extensive mining proposed for the site would have far-reaching negative effects over the entire Santa Clarita Valley, city officials have said, citing anticipated air pollution and traffic-choked freeways.
Mine opponents aren’t satisfied with two years of downtime; efforts are also under way to ensure the mine never opens.
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