Working across the aisle and in both the state Assembly and state Senate, we are fighting together to put an end to the looming CEMEX mega-mine operation here in the Santa Clarita Valley.
For more than 30 years, our community, the city of Santa Clarita, and elected officials locally and from around the state have been fighting to put an end to this project and prevent this mining project from negatively impacting our community. However, despite years of local opposition and several congressional and state actions, the project is still very much alive.
The CEMEX mega mine would be the second largest aggregate mine in the country. And for those of us who live and work in the Santa Clarita Valley, this mine remains one of the biggest threats to our community and our environment.
We know firsthand how hard the SCV community works to protect our land, water and air quality. This mega-mine would reverse years of environmental protection progress and cause a great disturbance to the community. That’s why we are joining forces in support of Assembly Bill 1631 (AB 1631, Schiavo).
AB 1631 would build upon previous legislative efforts to allow for a sensible review of decades-old applications before the State Water Resources Control Board. It would require the SWRCB to review all mining applications that have not been acted upon for 30 years of their original filing date, including CEMEX’s application. This second look at previously approved applications would reopen the public protest period, as if it were the first time the application was being submitted, allowing our community to hold CEMEX accountable and make their voices heard on this issue.
We know Santa Clarita today is not the Santa Clarita of 30 years ago when this mine was first proposed. Today, our community is bigger and more diverse than it ever has been. The daily operations of the mega-mine alone would result in an influx of up to 1,200 trips by 18-wheelers and gravel trucks frequently coming and going from the mine, adding traffic to our already congested commutes — especially on the heavily congested Highway 14 and Interstate 5 intersection.
It would also draw water from the Santa Clara River — the last natural river in Southern California and a water source to several communities, including but not limited to Santa Clarita Valley, Castaic, Agua Dulce and Ventura County.
The dust created by the mine would exceed acceptable levels of particulate matter in the air by nearly 200%, causing unnecessary harm to our air quality. At a time when reducing our environmental footprint has never been more important, it would be irresponsible for us to further pollute our air, destroy our land, and deplete our water sources.
We agree on one paramount thing: The SCV deserves a voice in this process and the ability to stand up for the health of our community.
In 1991, when the application to draw water from the Santa Clara River was initially submitted to the SWRCB, no hearing was held and no public comment taken. Existing law requires a notice of application to appropriate water and allows for public comment and protest to be filed within a certain time period.
A 2019 decision by the Interior Board of Land Appeals ruled that the CEMEX contract would expire in 2020, leaving them no time to proceed under the period left on its mining contract. A victory for sure, but not a solution. So while the SWRCB has essentially suspended activity on the current application, the status of it is still considered active, which is why we have decided to reintroduce Senate Bill 520 (Wilk) as AB 1631 (Schiavo).
This mega-mine is a serious threat to our community and our environment. This bill, while not a cure-all solution, ensures the public has the opportunity to provide input on projects — such as CEMEX — that have languished for decades but will greatly affect a community.
CEMEX is counting on us to give up. They have the money and the resources to jump through legal and bureaucratic hoops over and over again until they can mine in our backyard and then leave us to contend with the environmental calamity they’ve caused our community. Passing AB 1631 will give us the opportunity to make our voices heard, to tell our State Water Resource Control Board that we don’t want our air to be polluted, our land to be destroyed, and our water resources to be depleted.
The SCV is a growing, diverse community, a place where we work, raise our kids, and enjoy the beautiful mountains that surround our valley. We’re a community focused on protecting our environment and stepping into a clean and sustainable future.
This CEMEX mega-mine doesn’t just threaten our environment, it represents the antithesis of what we value as a community, which is why we stand with the city of Santa Clarita and all of those who have opposed this project in saying: Put an end to CEMEX’s mega-mine in the Santa Clarita Valley!
State Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, and Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, both represent the Santa Clarita Valley in the California Legislature.