Knight re-introduces bill to stop mining in Soledad Canyon

Abandoned equipment stands at the Cemex site in Canyon Country. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Congressman Steve Knight, who a year ago unveiled a bill to block future mining in Soledad Canyon, re-introduced the bill this week in hopes of ensuring Cemex or any other mining company would have no chance to mine in the area.

“We’re still hoping we get a favorable decision,” Knight told The Signal from Washington Thursday.

“And, if we get a favorable decision this would remove the mineral rights from the equation,” he said.

“Ultimately, we don’t want any mining in the area,” Knight said. “And this bill is hardest hitting of all the options.”

Knight’s Soledad Canyon Consistency Act would withdraw the mineral rights for the eastern portion of the Santa Clarita Valley, effectively blocking future mining projects in the area.

On Thursday, he re-introduced a bipartisan measure in an effort to prevent Cemex or any other company from mining in Soledad Canyon.

The Soledad Canyon Consistency Act, co-sponsored by nearby Representatives Judy Chu, Rep. Adam Schiff and Rep. Brad Sherman, would withdraw the mineral rights for land in the eastern portion of the Santa Clarita Valley, effectively blocking future mining projects in the area.

“Preventing Cemex from breaking ground on this mine is a top priority for me and many in our community,” Knight said in a prepared statement sent out in a news release.

“This bill will apply additional pressure and build momentum toward our goal of providing consistency, safety, and peace of mind to the people of the Santa Clarita Valley,” he said.

The reintroduction is the latest in a long series of actions by Knight and other local leaders to thwart Cemex’s plan to mine in the Santa Clarita Valley.

In his first term Knight worked with federal agencies and other stakeholders to block the project, and in August of 2015 the Bureau of Land Management cancelled the company’s mining contracts.

As the cancellation decision works its way through a lengthy appeals process Knight vowed to pursue all available legislative and administrative avenues to prevent future mining in the canyon, including the reintroduction of his proposed bill.

The Bureau of Land Management 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.

Since then, the city of Santa Clarita has locked horns with the multi-national mining firm to keep any shovels from sinking in Soledad Canyon.

City officials have long maintained that the mine would overload Highway 14 with truck traffic, choke the Santa Clarita Valley’s air with particulates, and generally degrade quality of life locally.

The Bureau of Land Management issued the formal decision to cancel the two mining contracts held by Cemex on Aug. 28, 2015.  T

Cemex immediately appealed BLM decision in August 2015.

As The Signal reported earlier this week, a decision on the Cemex appeal by federal administrative judges reviewing the case could be rendered as early as August and as late as April 2018.

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