SANTA CLARITA – The city has spent nearly $7 million fighting the 56.1 million-ton sand and gravel mine planned in Soledad Canyon, but local environmental groups who have been vocal on many issues have kept a relatively low profile on the Cemex mine. The groups all oppose the mining plan, but are largely relying on the city’s deep pockets to wage the public battle. “At the beginning of the Cemex issue I realized this was going to be a long-term issue with a lot of legal ramifications,” said Henry Schultz, vice chairman of the Santa Clarita Sierra Club. The Sierra Club signed on to the city’s lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management, which granted the mining rights. “We figured the city would be the active pursuer of avenues against Cemex.” The Sierra Club lent its name, but did not help finance the BLM suit, Schultz said. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREFrumpy Middle-aged Mom: My realistic 2020 New Year’s resolutions. Some involve doughnuts.Friends of the Santa Clara River, Santa Clarita Organization for Planning the Environment, and Safe Action for the Environment have also given the mine a thumbs down. Cemex hopes to begin operating in the canyon in 2008 and could mine about 70 million tons of sand and gravel over the next 20 years, with up to 600 trucks a day going in and out. Santa Clarita officials say Cemex’s proposal amounts to 10 times the level of historic mining in the area, and the company should extract no more than 300,000 tons a year, they say. Since 1999, the city has lodged lawsuits against Cemex and against government agencies for allowing the mine, hired lobbyists, taken out ads and bought the mine property and surrounding acreage, for a pricetag of $6.8 million. On Wednesday, the city erected an 80-foot billboard near the juncture of the Antelope Valley Freeway and Sand Canyon Road, saying more traffic jams will result from trucks coming in and out. “Yet again the city is spending taxpayer dollars on a campaign of myths and nonfactual information,” said Susana Duarte, a Cemex spokeswoman. Cemex says it will mail information about the mine to residents and place it on its Web site in a campaign called Straight Talk, which Duarte said will provide facts about the project’s size, the scope and the impact. “Our goal is to make sure residents can make informed and educated decisions regarding this project based on facts that have been verified by numerous studies, officials and authorities,” she said. A leader of the Friends of the Santa Clara River, which has sued the Castaic Lake Water Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over other issues, says the group sees no need now to duplicate what others are doing to fight the mine. “We realized the big players were in there litigating against this one – the city, the county – and we have so many things on our plate,” said Ron Bottorff, the group’s chairman. “We (figured) we would save our ammunition for other areas.” Bottorff said the group will track the mine’s impact on the upper river area, keeping an eye on any lowering of the water table and loss of vegetation. “If we start to see areas of the upper river drying up we will certainly take action,” he said. “A probable outcome would be litigation against the mine if we see these things happening.” SCOPE President Lynne Plambeck said its many efforts against the mine complement the city’s. “SCOPE has spent as much time and money fighting the Cemex project as it spent fighting Newhall Ranch,” she said. Attorneys representing the group work pro bono, she said. In 1992 the group protested a mining application to draw water from the river and notified nearby landowners of the matter, filed a protest with the BLM on behalf of itself and other environmental groups, published updates in its newsletter sent to 2,500 households, and mailed out action alerts. Safe Action for the Environment, a nonprofit corporation based in Canyon Country, works closely with the city and helped create almost all of the major air quality studies for the environmental reports, said board member Andy Fried, who lives in Agua Dulce. The group is involved in other issues regarding the mine’s compliance with city and county rules. “In terms of private organizations, no question SAFE has taken the lead,” said Fried, a past president of the Agua Dulce Town Council. “We feel the size and scope of this mine is completely incompatible with the surrounding land uses,” he said. “The group formed in 1999 to protect the environmental integrity of the Santa Clarita Valley and the Antelope Valley. Cemex was the major motivation for creating SAFE.” Fried said the group has spent or committed almost $120,000 to the fight against Cemex. He and his wife, Judy, have contributed most of the money, Fried said. He would accept the mine on the city’s terms, at historic levels. “We all live in houses that sit on concrete pads, have concrete driveways, drive on streets that have an asphalt base,” he said. “Obviously, concrete is a necessary component to everybody’s lifestyle. There is no question we need aggregate to fill the needs here, but we don’t need to be exporting it.” Cemex says the materials are destined for the Greater Los Angeles Area. firstname.lastname@example.org (661) 257-5255 A CLOSER LOOK Since 1999, the city of Santa Clarita has spent nearly $7 million fighting the Cemex mine proposed in Soledad Canyon. Attorneys’ fees for four lawsuits: $3.5 million Buying 412 acres surrounding the mine site in 2003: $1.2 million Buying 493 acres, including the mine property, in 2004: $755,000 Legislative lobbying: $600,000* Environmental research, including reports on water, air quality and traffic: $341,000** Radio and TV advertising, print ads, mailings and other outreach: nearly $200,000 Economic reports studying the need for rock and gravel, and the mine’s impact on the Santa Clarita Valley: $82,000*** Settlement of lawsuit over Public Records Act: $50,000**** *Paid to Washington, D.C.-based Jamison and Sullivan, and Los Angeles-based Afriat Consulting **Paid to Wildan Engineering and others ***Paid to Rand Corp., the Rose Institute and Parsons ****Paid to law firm Baker and McKenzie, which represented Cemex160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!