Teamwork helped halt CEMEX

Sunday Signal

Of all the potential threats our community has faced in our more than three
decades of cityhood, none would have been as detrimental to our way of life as the CEMEX mine in Soledad Canyon. In the late 1990s, our community rallied together to prevent the siting of a 56-million-ton mining and cement-processing proj- ect, within a 5-mile radius of homes, schools and parks.

City and community leaders expressed deep concern regarding future damage to local air quality, a significant increase in traffic on roads and freeways and the visual blight, if the proposed mine moved forward.

Looking back at some of the City’s earliest notes of opposition to the project, it is easy to see why so many people put forth the effort to oppose it. These are just a few of the reasons from a document written in 2006:

• The CEMEX project will add 600 more big trucks, making up to 1,200 trips a day, to our already overloaded local roadways and freeways.

• The CEMEX project will cause a significant amount of dust or particu- late matter to be released into the air. • CEMEX plans to blast, excavate, crush, screen and process rock mate- rials from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday, every week of every month, every year for 20 years. • The CEMEX project will result in the removal of a significant 50-foot ridgeline, as a result of mining.

• The CEMEX project will undoubtedly result in negative effects to local real estate values and discourage clean businesses from remaining in the area.

• This major mining project is lo- cated within easy proximity of more than 500,000 people, including many children and the elderly, who suffer from breathing and lung problems.

• The CEMEX project will result in the largest aggregate mine ever per- mitted by the Federal Bureau of Land Management, dubbing Santa Clarita a “major mining site.”

An amazing collaborative force was born from the need to stop these things from happening, and protect the high quality of life we enjoy in Santa Clarita. Local community or- ganizations, our school districts, the Sierra Club, Safe Action for the Envi- ronment, neighborhood groups and so many more people were united by the cause. The City hosted rallies, councilmembers made dozens of trips to Washington D.C. to advocate for our community, several pieces of legislation were crafted by our elected officials and City staff worked dili- gently for years to find a way to stop the proposed mining.

I am thrilled to say that this co- hesive and collaborative effort has finally paid off. The City is calling it a win on the battle against CEMEX. On March 20, the Interior Board of Land Appeals settled upon a decision that will result in CEMEX mining rights expiring in July 2020. There are no options to get their contracts extend- ed and no options for new contracts to be issued. This is the outcome that many, many people spent many, many years working towards.

Although this is good news — we will remain vigilant and continue to closely monitor the issue until the contract has officially expired. We would not have reached this point without our city council’s leadership and resolve to stay with the fight and never give up. I want to offer my deepest gratitude to all of those who I have worked alongside to reach this outcome. Our elected officials, orga- nizations, residents and of course, our dedicated City staff.

To all of you who took part in opposing the CEMEX mine in Soledad Canyon — I want to say congratulations and thank you. Our community’s devotion to protecting our environment is the driving force behind this outcome and the force that will protect Santa Clarita for future generations to come.

Ken Striplin is the Santa Clarita City Manager and can be reached
at [email protected]. The views expressed in his column are his own and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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