H.R. 6469 (112th): Soledad Canyon Mine Mitigation and Relocation Act of 2012

112th Congress, 2011–2013. Text as of Sep 20, 2012 (Introduced).

Status & Summary | PDF | Source: GPO

I

112th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 6469

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

September 20, 2012

introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources

A BILL

To direct the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Bureau of Land Management, to conduct a study of the legal and administrative steps necessary to carry out the goals of H.R. 4332, the Soledad Canyon High Desert, California Public Lands Conservation and Management Act of 2009 of the 111th Congress.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Soledad Canyon Mine Mitigation and Relocation Act of 2012.

2.

Findings

Congress finds the following:

(1)

The Soledad Canyon area has been used to mine construction aggregate resources since the 1960s.

(2)

In 1987, the State of California classified Soledad Canyon as a regionally significant construction aggregate resource area.

(3)

The construction sand and gravel industry is valued at more than $5,900,000,000 by the United States Geological Survey, with an estimated 4,000 companies performing 6,400 construction sand and gravel operations in 50 States. California leads the Nation in gross tonnage of sand and gravel mined.

(4)

Sand and gravel are estimated to be used in accordance with the following percentages:

(A)

41 percent for concrete aggregates.

(B)

25 percent for road base, coverings, and stabilization.

(C)

13 percent as construction fill.

(D)

12 percent for asphalt.

(E)

4 percent for plaster.

(F)

5 percent for miscellaneous products, including filtration and railroad ballasts, bricks, and pipes.

(5)

Two privately held valid Federal contracts, numbered CA–20139 and CA–22901, issued under the Act of July 31, 1947 (30 U.S.C. 601 et seq.; 61 Stat 681; commonly known as the Materials Act of 1947), authorize 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.

(6)

Those Federal contracts were awarded in 1990 to Transit Mixed Concrete. Southdown, the parent company of Transit Mixed Concrete, was acquired by CEMEX in 2000, resulting in CEMEX holding the Federal contracts.

(7)

The Bureau of Land Management approved a mining plan of operations and prepared a draft environmental impact statement with respect to the Soledad Canyon Mine, which was released on May 6, 1999. The environmental impact statement was subsequently modified to address growing concerns among Santa Clarita residents about the impact mining operations in Soledad Canyon had on air quality and health, truck traffic, and declining property values in Santa Clarita.

(8)

The final environmental impact statement was released to the public on June 2, 2000, with a list of eight alternatives for mining the Soledad Canyon site.

(9)

The county of Los Angeles was required, with respect to mining in Soledad Canyon, under the California Environmental Quality Act (Cal. Public Resources Code, section 21000 et seq.) to prepare an environmental impact report to comply with the California Surface Mining Reclamation Act (Cal. Public Resources Code, section 2710 et seq.). The final environmental impact report was released in April 2001, but the County Board of Supervisors voted to deny a permit under such Act (Cal. Public Resources Code, section 2710 et seq.) in early 2002, citing the right and responsibility of the county to impose reasonable environmental and resource protection and regulation on mining in Soledad Canyon.

(10)

Numerous lawsuits were filed between 2002 and 2004 involving the city of Santa Clarita, the county of Los Angeles, the Center for Biological Diversity, and CEMEX.

(11)

Exhibit H to the Consent Decree resulting from the settlement of CEMEX Inc. v. County of Los Angeles, filed on May 20, 2004, in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Western Division, contains the mitigation agreement between CEMEX and the county of Los Angeles (entitled Settlement Project Conditions), which lists 40 conditions that CEMEX is required to meet in order to mitigate the environmental, health, traffic, endangered species, and safety concerns raised by the county, local residents, and the city of Santa Clarita.

(12)

Congressman Howard P. Buck McKeon of California has introduced the following bills with respect to the Soledad Canyon Mine:

(A)

H.R. 3060 (106th Congress) to withdraw specified lands from the operation of Federal mining and mineral leasing laws and to nullify any existing permits issued on such lands.

(B)

H.R. 679 (107th Congress) to reintroduce H.R. 3060 from the 106th Congress.

(C)

H.R. 3529 (108th Congress), the Soledad Canyon Mine Lease Cancellation Act, to cancel two mining permits for the Soledad Canyon Mine and to prohibit the Secretary of the Interior from issuing permits for mining above historical levels in Soledad Canyon.

(D)

H.R. 5471 (109th Congress), the Soledad Canyon Mine Leases Adjustment Act—

(i)

to cancel two mining permits for the Soledad Canyon Mine;

(ii)

to direct the Secretary of the Interior to provide additional financial and mineral production opportunities in exchange for the economic value invested to date on the two permits; and

(iii)

to prohibit the Secretary of the Interior from issuing permits for mining above historical levels in Soledad Canyon.

(E)

H.R. 5887 (110th Congress), the Soledad Canyon Mine Act—

(i)

to authorize the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Bureau of Land Management, to cancel mining contracts CA–20139 and CA–22901;

(ii)

to prohibit future mining in the Soledad Canyon;

(iii)

to provide a means for CEMEX to recover as just compensation for the cancellation of the contracts the fair market value of, and the expenditures and covered liabilities of Transit Mixed Concrete in pursuing the development of, the contracts;

(iv)

to provide the Bureau of Land Management with the necessary tools to verify the expenses incurred by CEMEX and provide relief to CEMEX for such expenses;

(v)

to provide timelines for the verification of such expenses and the determination of just compensation; and

(vi)

to provide for a dispute resolution process.

(F)

H.R. 4332 (111th Congress), the Soledad Canyon High Desert, California Public Lands Conservation and Management Act of 2009—

(i)

to authorize the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Bureau of Land Management, to cancel mining contracts CA–20139 and CA–22901;

(ii)

to withdraw the areas that were subject to such contracts from further mineral entry under all mineral leasing and sales authorities available to the Secretary;

(iii)

to provide compensation to CEMEX for such contracts;

(iv)

to offer for sale by competitive bidding lands identified for disposition near Victorville, California; and

(v)

to acquire environmentally sensitive land and collect the proceeds of the sale of lands near Victorville, California.

(13)

Congressman McKeon was instrumental in CEMEX and the city of Santa Clarita entering into an agreement (entitled the Principles of Cooperation) on January 8, 2007, which was renewed eight times and expired on May 31, 2012. The Principles of Cooperation governed the conduct between the two parties, ensured that no mining permits were initiated at any level, and ensured that all parties would work toward a mutually favorable legislative solution.

(14)

On November 4, 2011, Congressman McKeon was informed by the Chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources of the House of Representatives, Congressman Doc Hastings of Washington, that H.R. 4332 (111th Congress) was considered a congressional earmark under the Rules of the House of Representatives for the 112th Congress.

(15)

Clause 9(e) of rule XXI of the Rules of the House of Representatives for the 112th Congress defines a congressional earmark as a provision or report language included primarily at the request of a Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, or Senator providing, authorizing or recommending a specific amount of discretionary budget authority, credit authority, or other spending authority for a contract, loan, loan guarantee, grant, loan authority, or other expenditure with or to an entity, or targeted to a specific State, locality or Congressional district, other than through a statutory or administrative formula-driven or competitive award process..

3.

Study required by Bureau of Land Management

(a)

Study required

Beginning not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Bureau of Land Management, shall commence a study of the legal and administrative steps, including obtaining sufficient funding, necessary to carry out the goals of H.R. 4332 (111th Congress) referred to in section 2(12)(F).

(b)

Report

Not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Interior shall submit to the Committee on Natural Resources of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate a report of the findings of the study conducted under subsection (a). The report shall include recommendations on the best means to achieve the goals of H.R. 4332 (111th Congress) referred to in section 2(12)(F).