U.S. Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon said he will introduce a bill next week in Washington that would kill plans for a proposed gravel-mining facility in Soledad Canyon.
Much as he did in 1996 when he blocked the Elsmere Canyon landfill project in Angeles National Forest, McKeon (R-Santa Clarita) has written a bill that would prohibit the Transit Mixed Concrete company from mining gravel on a 500-acre site at Soledad Canyon Road and the Antelope Valley Freeway.
Transit Mixed Concrete representatives warned McKeon that the bill would amount to a breach of contract since the company signed a contract with the federal government in 1990 to mine gravel at the site.
The federal Bureau of Land Management has authority over the site's minerals.
McKeon said company officials have asked several of his House colleagues to lobby him to support the project.
Company spokesman Brian Mastin said he was unaware of any effort to have other House members lobby McKeon and stressed that the company has met with neighbors for years to discuss the project.
The proposal to mine 83 million tons of gravel, sand and other materials from the 500-acre site over 20 years has angered many Santa Clarita Valley residents. Hundreds packed public meetings to oppose the project, and scores of political leaders have also objected.
"In many ways, these problems could have been avoided if the sponsors of the project had worked more closely with the community," McKeon said Friday at a news conference outside Sulphur Springs Elementary School in Canyon Country.
The project would produce 56 million tons of concrete products, half of which would be used for public works projects such as new roads, Mastin said. If McKeon halts the project, Transit Mixed Concrete will have to increase mining at Palmdale facilities and trucking materials to the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys at an added cost of $178 million, said Kerry Shapiro, attorney for the company. The federal government would lose $28 million in royalties, Shapiro said.
McKeon said he's aiming to win bipartisan support for his bill in the House, but said shepherding it through the Senate "would be the real problem."