Granite Construction has come out swinging in response to what its officials are calling a last-minute, behind-the-scenes attempt to circumvent the local land use process, a spokesperson said.
The construction company has joined a labor union in a unified effort to stop a proposed bill aimed at preventing Liberty Quarry from breaking ground, according to Karie Ruether, Granite Construction’s spokesperson.
The bill would ultimately enact a wide-sweeping ban on all California mining operations, Reuther explained.
The proposed bill is similar to a 1990’s bill that ultimately killed all precious mineral operations in California.
The proposed bill, authored by Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, is sponsored by the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians and is aimed at stopping the proposed quarry near Temecula by prohibiting aggregate mining within 5,000 yards of an Indian reservation or indigenous historical site.
Bill Waggoner, the Business Manager for Operating Engineers Local 12 had some harsh words regarding the bill.
“This bill is ridiculous. While I recognize the concerns of the various Indian tribes regarding the protection of their sacred burial sites, the public has no guarantee of that fact because that information is not available to the general public.
“Like the rest of the middle class of the United States, the construction industry is experiencing high unemployment and huge underemployment problems. The proposed Liberty Quarry will bring good paying long-term jobs to California at a time when the economy is in desperate need of these projects.”
Liberty Quarry is a proposed, 135-acre quarry on a site that is currently zoned for mining near the Riverside-San Diego County border. The project has been under environmental review by the County of Riverside for the last six years and is currently in the middle of Planning Commission hearings.
Granite Construction's Southern California Resource Mgr. Gary Johnson is not too happy upon learning of this last-minute bill.
“Granite is extremely disappointed to learn about this last-minute end run around the local and state land use process,”
Johnson said he was taken by surprise by the attempt to thwart the project.
“We have been engaged with the Pechanga leadership, tribal council and tribal membership since we first introduced our project in 2005. It was almost four years after we first briefed the tribal council before we heard any indication that they may have issue with this site. In our over 89 years of continuous operation in California we have a strong history of working hand-in-hand with local tribes, so this latest development is appalling to us.”
The Pechanga tribe should expect a warm reception in Sacramento where over the past few years they have spent millions of dollars in contributions and lobbying, Reuther added.