Santa Clarita received an early Christmas present today from Congress when Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon’s HR 5742 unanimously passed on the floor of the House of Representatives as a stand-alone bill after less than 20 minutes of testimony. McKeon’s bill to cancel gravel mining contracts in Soledad Canyon made it through on the House’s suspension calendar.
Several years ago, CEMEX purchased the rights to remove 78-million tons of material in Soledad Canyon to produce 56-million tons of concrete aggregates over 20 years but has not yet started doing so.
HR 5742, the Soledad Canyon Settlement Act, seeks to end a long-running dispute between the City of Santa Clarita and the Mexico-based, international CEMEX Corporation by requiring the Federal Bureau of Land Management to cancel the company’s mining contracts in Soledad Canyon and prohibit the Bureau of Land Management from re-letting contracts there. In return, CEMEX would be compensated for the fair market value of the contracts through the sale of 10,000 acres of government land in Victorville.
The passage of McKeon’s House bill is a monumental step towards preventing mining in Soledad Canyon. To fully prevent future mining on the site, legislation in the Senate would also need to be passed. The identical legislation S. 293 was introduced in the Senate on November 18, 2014, as the Soledad Canyon Settlement Act, sponsored by Senators Boxer and Feinstein.