Sen. Barbara Boxer plans to reintroduce a bill that will compensate a mining company for local land and stop a massive sand-and-gravel mine from moving into Soledad Canyon, according to city officials.
A local delegation that went to Washington to discuss a controversial sand-and-gravel mine project and its long-awaited accompanying legislation is optimistic a solution is “within reach,” according to city officials.
“I think we have support from our representatives, and I think they understand the paramount concerns of this community, and how this affects everything -- our health, our, environment, our business community, our film community,” said City Councilwoman Laurene Weste, discussing the impact of a Cemex mine in Soledad Canyon.
“There will be a resolution that satisfies the needs for our community, accommodates the costs, and the (needs that cemex has),” Weste said.
The tentative Cemex legislation, currently called Senate Bill 759 at the moment -- although that will change when the bill is reintroduced, according to Weste -- faces a $20 million challenge that is being addressed cooperatively by Cemex and city officials, said Mike Murphy, intergovernmental relations officer for the city of Santa Clarita.
Essentially, the Congressional Budget Office assigns a “score” to each piece of federal legislation, which assigns a cost to the federal government, Murphy said.
The goal for city officials and Cemex, who are working in concert, is to get that figure down to zero. It was too early to speculate on how that gap would be bridged, Murphy said, although he did say it doesn’t have to be strictly monetary compensation, and that land could be given to the federal government in lieu of cash.
Various iterations of a bill to stop the mine from coming into Santa Clarita have been in the works for about six years, Murphy said.
Cemex representatives have been helpful and amenable to an alternative that would compensate the company for their land in the mining contract, according to city officials.
“I really think they would like to resolve it,” Weste said, noting company officials were present during meetings with Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Boxer. “No one twisted their arm to go to the meeting and they were there and said the same thing to legislators, but they have a business interest.”
The fact that the company and city officials are working together on the solution is important, Weste added.
“It’s very important that we resolve this legislatively for us, and and for all future generations,” she said. “We’ve made that clear with our representatives, and Cemex has made it clear.”
Cemex officials could not be reached for comment.