Schiavo and Wilk’s CEMEX bill passes Senate 

The sunset is reflected in a pool of water at the proposed Cemex mining site in Canyon Country. Dan Watson/The Signal

A bill seen as a key tool to aid in the fight against the proposed CEMEX sand and gravel mine in Soledad Canyon has passed the state Senate and is headed toward Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk for approval. 

Assembly Bill 1631 states that if the State Water Resources Control Board has not rendered a final determination on an application for a permit to appropriate water for uses, including mining, within 30 years from the date the application was filed, the board would be required to issue a new notice and provide an opportunity for protests before rendering a final determination, with specified exceptions. 

It passed the California State Senate with bipartisan support on Thursday.  

The legislation, also known as the Community Water Protection Bill, was authored by Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Santa Clarita, with state Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, as the principal co-author. 

The bill was designed to take aim at the CEMEX project — which would be the largest gravel mine in North America if its application were to be approved. CEMEX absorbed a company that applied for the project 30 years ago, in 1993. Wilk had introduced the bill last year, and Schiavo picked it up this year, with the two local legislators working together to secure its passage. 

Both Wilk and Schiavo hailed the bill’s passing as a victory for residents of the Santa Clarita Valley.  

“This is a major victory for the Santa Clarita Valley, and the result of a long battle I have fought since I first arrived in Sacramento,” Wilk said in a prepared statement. “The CEMEX mega-mine didn’t belong in our valley 30 years ago, and it certainly doesn’t belong there today.” 

Wilk also lauded the fact that he was able to reach across the aisle to work with Schiavo and other Democrats to get the bill to Newsom’s desk.  

“Our legislation, with its focus on transparency and public engagement, represents a pivotal moment in California’s water management,” Schiavo said in a prepared statement. “It aims to ensure that our community has a voice in such an important resource — water. It’s critical our water resources are protected and preserved in the best interests of our residents.” 

Local officials and residents raised concerns when the project was applied for and have done so ever since. Its application was never approved and it remained in limbo for decades due to a number of legal battles.  

The bill passed this week would require the SWRCB to issue a new notice to CEMEX and require an opportunity for protests before the board issued a final determination on CEMEX’s application for water appropriation. It also would require the SWRCB to re-notice an application within 30 years from the application date, which has passed.    

The SWRCB preemptively did this before the bill passed, and on Tuesday sent a letter to CEMEX’s counsel that stated officials would not reconsider their decision to notify the application.  

The project caused environmental concerns because the mine would draw water from a portion of the Santa Clara River — one of the last natural rivers in Southern California which provides water to both the SCV and San Fernando Valley — which runs inside of Soledad Canyon. The city and local residents have also expressed concerns about the project’s traffic and air quality impacts. 

“It’s critical our water resources are protected and preserved in the best interests of our residents,” read the statement from Schiavo. “Now that this bill has passed the Assembly and the Senate, I look forward to seeing the governor sign AB 1631.” 

The bill passed 30-2 and now awaits the governor’s signature before becoming law.  

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