Sunday, April 27, 2008

Happenings: McKeon Promises a "Win-Win"

NOTE: As far as I'm concerned, the only thing good to have come from the phrase "win-win"--used to title Rep. McKeon's press release for the CEMEX Bill--is a pretty decent episode of The Office where Michael tries to mediate the elusive win-win-win.

I will refrain from saying "quick! somebody order the thank you signs" since you're probably tired of those jokes by now (even though I'm not). Indeed, our United States House of Representatives rep, Buck McKeon, has delivered on his promise. He drafted and introduced a bill that would allow the feds to cancel contracts for CEMEX's planned aggregate mining in Soledad Canyon. If you were kicked in the head by a pony as a young child, I remind you that SCV is unanimously against CEMEX mining in this valley, and we are throwing everything we have at trying to keep them from doing so.

There is an excerpt from the bill presented below. Should you want to read the entire thing, I recommend you visit GovTrack, an excellent place to keep tabs on how the bill progresses. After visiting that site, there are a number of other places to visit on the net. Though introduced just days ago, SCV and government sites have devoted plenty of webspace to the bill and its surrounding story [1,2,3,4].

I hope you’ll excuse me for not whoop-di-frickin’-dooin’ about H.R. 5887. The numbers of the bill title add up to 28, which adds up to 10, which adds up to 1, which is simply no good. Apart from the numbers working against us, this bill us probably slated to do what Bill H.R. 5471 did several years ago: nothing, i.e., never leave committee. Still, I think it's a good way to approach the problem and should be supported by Claritans. It sees that the contract allowing for mining is cancelled, and in return, CEMEX is able to relocate to near Victorville for its mining efforts. Now it's time to hope that the story of this bill does not end here.

[1]McKeon press release, with dreaded "Win-win" title
[2]Santa Clarita press release--surprisingly, there isn't one up on the Press Releases page as of 10:46pm Sunday night; I'll post it here when/if available. Do click on the P.R. link, though, to check for an update. Perhaps the City is playing it cool this time around?
[3]The Signal story by Katherine Geyer, April 26
[4]Story by Jon Dell and Carol Rock at KHTS, April 26

EXCERPT (full bill available here):
HR 5887 IH

2d Session
H. R. 5887

To provide to the Secretary of Interior a mechanism to cancel contracts for the sale of materials CA-20139 and CA-22901, and for other purposes.

April 24, 2008

Mr. MCKEON introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, and in addition to the Committee on Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


To provide to the Secretary of Interior a mechanism to cancel contracts for the sale of materials CA-20139 and CA-22901, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
This Act may be cited as the `Soledad Canyon Mine Act'.
(a) Findings- The Congress finds the following:
(1) Transit Mix Concrete Corporation holds two valid Federal contracts, numbered CA-20139 and CA-22901, issued under the Materials Act of 1947, for the extraction of approximately 56,000,000 tons of sand and gravel from the Federal mineral estate in lands located in Soledad Canyon adjacent to the city of Santa Clarita, California.
(2) It is in the best interest of the citizens of California and the Federal Government to cancel the Contracts and prohibit future mining in the Soledad Canyon area of California.
(3) TMC should receive as just compensation for such cancellation the fair market value of the Contracts and all costs, fees, and covered liabilities incurred by TMC in good faith in its efforts to develop the Contracts.
(4) A site-specific solution that is fair to TMC and that seeks to protect the environment and minimize impacts on local transportation systems is in the best interest of the Nation.
(5) Considerable sums of money have been expended by TMC and the city of Santa Clarita on legal and other services in trying to ensure their interests are protected with respect to Contracts CA-20139 and CA-22901.
(b) Purposes- The purposes of this Act are the following:
(1) To provide to the Bureau of Land Management the authority to cancel contracts CA-20139 and CA-22901 and prohibit future mining in the Soledad Canyon.
(2) To provide a means for TMC to recover as just compensation for the cancellation of the Contracts the fair market value of, and TMC's expenditures and covered liabilities pursuing the development of, the Contracts.
(3) To provide the Bureau of Land Management tools to verify expenses incurred by TMC and provide relief.
(4) To provide timelines for the verification of costs incurred by TMC and the determination of just compensation, and to provide a dispute resolution process.


mike devlin said...

I'm unclear on where Victorville fits in here. What are they gaining exactly?

For us, this sounds like great news. The lack of co-sponsors and Buck's track record on this issue lead me to agree with your forecast, but we'll see.

A Santa Claritan said...

I think Victorville might indirectly get some jobs or something else to help out their economy by having CEMEX operations nearby...but really, I think they would just put up far less of a fight.

mike devlin said...

I've been reading around a little and it looks like Cemex will get federal land that Victorville would like to have, so Cemex will ultimately get money by selling the land to Victorville. Cemex is unlikely to mine in the area, if there is anything to be had anyway.

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