Local Blasting Ordinance Blasted Away By State Bill
By Sebastian del Marmol
Debate over a controversial blasting ordinance was delayed by the Miami-Dade County Commission Tuesday by news that a state bill awaiting the governor’s signature would preempt Miami-Dade’s authority to regulate the mining industry.
Miguel Diaz de la Portilla said he sponsored the ordinance as a way to regulate the industry, which he says has caused major damage to residences near the Lake Belt in Northwest Miami-Dade.
He and several colleagues objected to the state bill, which would strip monitoring responsibilities from the county and hand them to the state’s fire marshal.
Mr. Diaz de la Portilla first proposed blasting regulations in November 1999 but was forced to defer them three times because a task force created to study the issue had not finished its work.
"I told you so," Mr. Diaz de la Portilla said Tuesday.
He said he has been lobbying to protect residences in the area and the long delays eventually caught up with the commission.
Mr. Diaz de la Portilla said state legislation would restrict the commission’s ability to deal with blasting.
His ordinance would have limited the number of blasts mining companies could set off each week and required permit fees to cover costs of independent monitoring.
He asked County Manager Merrett Stierheim to determine what the county could do in light of the new legislation.
"I don’t know where we go from here," Mr. Diaz de la Portilla said. "We should consider legal action" against the state "if necessary."
The commission voted to ask Gov. Jeb Bush to veto the legislation, which is included in a larger transportation bill.
Mr. Stierheim asked Mr. Diaz de la Portilla to defer the matter until June 6 to see if Mr. Bush would veto the legislation.
Commissioner Miriam Alonso, who has long clashed with Mr. Diaz de la Portilla over the local ordinance, said deferring action would also give the task force the chance to make its final report.
Ms. Alonso said the state should not meddle in the county’s affairs. She also said she felt betrayed by mining companies, which had worked with her task force to develop reasonable regulations on the industry.
"We have tried to protect the quality of life of residents and the jobs of industry employees but I am offended by what has happened," she said.
As well as lobbying for the state law, mining companies recently filed two suits against the county to block proposed regulations.
Commissioner Bruno Barreiro said he also felt the state action infringed on county rights.
"When the state legislature is in session, no life or human being is safe," Mr. Barreiro said. "At the last minute of the session anything can happen."