The Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife has advanced Assembly Bill 1631, a bill by Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, that would allow review by the State Water Resources Control Board of applications that are still pending for 30 years or more, which includes the application for the CEMEX sand and gravel mine in Soledad Canyon.
Santa Clarita has doubled in size since the CEMEX mine application was initially submitted, so residents now living and raising children in the community were not even born at the time of original permit process started, said a statement released by Schiavo’s office. Reopening the review process would allow these residents and others who didn’t live in Santa Clarita at the time the opportunity to make their voices heard regarding protecting water needs for the growing community.
“Mega mines like the proposed CEMEX project would reverse years of environmental protection progress and cause a great disturbance to our community,” Schiavo said in the release. “This legislation, which just cleared a major hurdle by advancing through its first committee, will give our community the voice they deserve. Given that the Santa Clarita Valley community works hard to protect our land, water and air quality, our input is vital.”
The proposed CEMEX mega-mine would draw water from the Santa Clara River, one of the last natural rivers in Southern California and an important resource for numerous surrounding communities, including the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys, the statement said.
“This critical piece of legislation will significantly improve the state’s review of long-pending and severely outdated water appropriation applications,” Santa Clarita Mayor Jason Gibbs said in the release. “Assembly Bill 1631 strengthens public participation in this process and ensures that members of the public and community stakeholders have an opportunity to have their views presented and considered by the State Water Resources Control Board. Additionally, this legislation is critical in protecting ground water, rivers and tributaries, and some of the state’s most iconic wildlife.”
Gibbs added: “I commend Assemblywoman Schiavo for introducing this legislation and inviting me to testify in support of this incredibly important matter and express my sincere appreciation for her work in successfully getting this bill out of the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife.”
The bill is similar to one put forth in a previous legislative session by Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, who has pledged to support the bill if it reaches the Senate.