June 14, 2017
During its monthly meeting in July 2017, the California Coastal Commission is set to hear a recommended course of action regarding the Cemex Lapis Lustre sand mine in Marina, Calif., which is the last coastal sand mine in the United States, Monterey County Weekly reports. Scientists claim the mine is the reason southern Monterey Bay’s shoreline has one of the highest coastal erosion rates in the state, and Coastal Commission staff sent a notice of intent to issue a cease-and-desist order to the Cemex operation in March 2016.
The agency has been working to reach a settlement with Cemex, hoping to avoid litigation, but no settlement has been reached. On May 15, Cemex filed a statement of defense with the Coastal Commission in response to the agency’s threat to issue a cease-and-desist order. According to the news agency, the 59-page document highlights Cemex’s legal strategy, if they decide not to settle.
According to the news agency, Cemex will cast doubt on the peer-reviewed scientific findings of the mine’s erosion impacts, specifically referring to a paper written by local coastal engineer Ed Thornton in October 2016, arguing that the operation is a vested right, and is immune to the Coastal Commission’s regulatory reach. Cemex states that Thornton’s peer-reviewed paper “wrongly accuses” its mine “of being the cause of perceived beach erosion in this region. While published in a peer-reviewed journal, the article is a theoretical construct not based on measured data. This unproven approach stands in stark contrast to the data driven methodologies used in recognized academic literature.”
The Coastal Commission’s potential options are to settle, take no action, or follow through on the threat to issue a cease-and-desist order.
The city of Marina joined the fight when the City Council voted 5-0 to authorize City Attorney Rob Wellington to explore legal options that would argue that the Cemex mine is a “public nuisance” due to its erosion impacts, and that it must mitigate the impacts of its operation. Wellington told the news agency that he may wait and see how things play out with the Coastal Commission and the State Lands Commission. The State Lands Commission ordered Cemex to apply for a lease for their mining operation, which would potentially be subject to environmental review.