After languishing on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk for 17 days, Assembly Bill 1631, an effort co-authored by Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo and Sen. Scott Wilk meant as the latest tool in the fight against Cemex’s effort to put a megamine in Soledad Canyon, failed to get signed into law.
Both Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, and Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, hailed the Assembly bill’s passage in the Senate on Sept. 7, with the senator calling it a major victory and Schiavo adding that she would “look forward to seeing the governor sign AB 1631.”
In a veto message issued Saturday, Newsom said the bill had been rendered “unnecessary” by the State Water Board’s decision to re-notice the Cemex application, which would have been the only project impacted by the bill.
The bill would have mandated any projects seeking a water permit with an application more than 30 years old be subject to a renoticing of the application. Cemex has such an application, seeking a beneficial water use of the Santa Clara River, which it needs as part of its plan to open the largest aggregate mine in North America. The site in Soledad Canyon is just outside Santa Clarita city limits.
Cemex has yet to respond to several requests for comment regarding the project.
Newsom noted the project has been “long delayed” in his veto statement:
“This would impact a single, current application for a project in the author’s district that is long delayed. While I appreciate the author’s attempt to provide an opportunity to comment on the water right application in question, the State Water Board formally stated its intent to re-notice the application by the end of this year, rendering this bill unnecessary. For this reason, I cannot sign this.”
Schiavo issued a statement Tuesday saying she felt the bill she and Wilk worked on still served its purpose.
“The pressure of the bill compelled the State Water Board to take the action outlined in the bill, which will now give the public a chance to share their position on the community impact of the CEMEX mine, something the community of Santa Clarita has been demanding for years,” according to a statement issued by Schiavo’s office.
Wilk, too, stood by his belief the bill represented a “major victory” in the same release:
“It was fantastic to see the governor reaffirm that the State Water Board will re-notice CEMEX’s application by the end of the year,” he wrote.
The latest information from the State Water Resources Control Board in September confirmed that a decision was made to re-notice the application. The decision to re-notice will not be reconsidered, despite a request for an appeal over the summer from Cemex.
While there’s no guarantee there will be a public hearing yet, those potentially affected by the project will have a chance to file protests, according to Ailene Voisin, a spokeswoman for the State Water Board.
“The State Water Board has not determined whether to hold a hearing regarding the Cemex water right permit application,” Voisin wrote in an email Sept. 1. “The next step in processing the application is to re-notice the application. The noticing period, once commenced, will be a 40-day period where the public has an opportunity to file protests against the application. While the date of re-notice has not yet been determined, it will likely occur in the next several months.”
Those wanting updates about the potential hearing dates can sign up for them at www.waterboards.ca.gov/resources/email_subscriptions.