California Policy Manager, Surfrider Foundation
Community

CEMEX dredge. Photo: Kathy Biala


The Inertia

For just a moment, let’s step away from the fact that our world is wildly at risk right now. Let’s not think about the Trump administration’s onslaught of executive orders that aim to undermine all environmental protections. Let’s hit the pause button on freaking out about climate change.

Okay, ready? Great, because I am about to lay some good news on you in spite of all this. Remember that sand mine in California, that was illegally stripping away Monterey’s coast and selling it for profit? The one Save Our Shores, Surfrider Foundation’s Monterey Chapter and a whole coalition of activists have been pressuring the California Coastal Commission and State Lands Commission to shut down? Well, all that activism worked.

The Monterey Herald has reported that the Coastal Commission “is set to consider a proposal that would eventually shut down the Cemex sand mining plant operation” at July 13 meeting in Seaside.

The SF Chronicle also covered the story, quoting Lisa Haage, chief enforcement officer for the Coastal Commission. “We have long sought a solution here to stop the loss of sand and to protect the beaches in the Monterey Bay. If this settlement is approved, we look forward to working with the community on designing future uses of the property that provide for public access, conservation, habitat protection and public education.”

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Note the phrasing, if this settlement is approved – we’ll come back to that.

But first, let’s talk about what the settlement looks like. It’s good, folks. It’s very good. Keep in mind that the alternative would have been several years of litigation during which Cemex would’ve been able to continue its no-holds-barred ripping off of sand from California’s coast. In that light, please appreciate this:

– Cemex’s Lapis plant will cease all mining operations in three years.

– The company’s extraction is not allowed to exceed 177,000 cubic yards annually over those three years, an amount significantly less than what it’s currently taking.

– Cemex’s upland processing plant will cease operations within six years (the company has stockpiled sand it will be allowed to continue to bag and sell, and this also extends job viability for its current employees, an important piece of this puzzle).

– Cemex shall restore the habitat on the property.

– The property will be transferred, at a reduced purchase price, to a non-profit or governmental entity approved by the Coastal Commission for the purpose of conservation and to include public access, “low-impact passive recreation” and public education.

So, three years from now, instead of waiting for the next round in court and watching our coastline be sold off at Home Depot, we’ll have the end of coastal sand mining in the U.S. and the promise of a restored, newly protected piece of the Monterey Bay going into the future.

Surfrider has a motto, “Constant pressure, endlessly applied.” This campaign is only one of many in which that motto is put to the test, repeatedly. It’s great to see all the efforts pay off and hopefully provide inspiration for all those battles ongoing and yet to come.

Well done, California.

CEMEX’s Lapis plant in Marina, Ca.

Note: The Coastal Commission’s enforcement staff deserves huge props for this. And if you can show up to the Coastal Commission’s meeting on Thursday, July 13 at CSU Monterey’s World Theater Building, 5260 6th Ave, Seaside to thank them, vocalize your agreement and help make sure the 12 Coastal Commissioners voting on the settlement do so in support of staff’s recommendations, then truly, you will be a hero, too. More on the campaign and pending victory from Surfrider Foundation’s Monterey Chapter Chair Kevin Miller here


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