Common Sense vs. the Utah Inland Port

This morning the Stop the Pollution Port coalition, UPHE included, held a press event for the release of our report outlining the harms that will come from the proposed Utah Inland Port. Read full report here.

The report was written and researched by people with expertise in areas of concern including air quality, migratory birds, transportation and community impacts.

Primary among issues described in the report are human health impacts from increased pollution the port will bring.  The report conservatively estimates (based on warehouses developers plan for undeveloped land north of I-80) that the proposed port would bring 11,600 new daily truck trips, as well as 23,000 automobile trips, and the associated air pollution causing harm to Utahns.

“The science is clear on just how serious the health hazard of air pollution is to Utah communities. We need to repeal the port.  The health problems the Utah Inland Port will create will harm not just current generations, but future generations as well.  We need strong political will from our leaders and for them to do the right thing for the sake our communities health.” Said Kirtly Jones M.D., Board Member, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.” 

Communities hardest hit by this pollution will be those closest to the port including West Valley City, Taylorsville and Salt Lake City’s westside neighborhoods. 

“Westside residents are already subjected to increasing amounts of pollution from a variety of local sources. Adding an Inland Port to the mix is sure to up the ante on the impact to our residents by an order of magnitude. The Westside deserves better and our communities deserve better,” said Richard Holman, Chair of the Westside Coalition. 

The report also describes the devastation to wildlife, particularly migratory birds that will come from port development. 

“The Inland Port is a shameful project that will desecrate and destroy critical wildlife habitat. Legislators need to hear the voice of the people who have repeatedly stated that they would prefer the south shore of the Lake remain undeveloped,” said Heather Dove, President of Great Salt Lake Audubon. “The public has unequivocally stated they choose no development over the prospect of low-paying warehouse jobs, suffocating air pollution and increased traffic. For the sake of the birds and for the sake of the people of the Salt Lake Valley who will suffer the environmental consequences, we ask the legislature to repeal the Inland Port.” 

Also of concern are the greenhouse gas emissions that will come from development in the area. 

“Climate change is the most pressing issue threatening the world today, even though the legislature chooses not to address it and fails to work towards a more sustainable future by reducing emissions,” said Rowland Hall student Sophie Dau.  “Instead, they are exploiting the planet without concern for future consequences by building an inland port. We cannot continue only considering the economy and assume that we can fix climate change.”  

The report also examines what little information exists about plans to develop “Satellite Ports” throughout Utah, intended to be financed by giving developers tax breaks. In some instances, it appears these are envisioned as fossil fuel transloading facilities, but the details are scarce. 

“The greater Inland Port scheme envisions a new, state-wide trade network with the Inland Port Authority given unprecedented power to shape Utah’s economic future: for good or ill,” said Stan Holmes, a Utah Sierra Club board member.  “The public’s attention has been directed to the Salt Lake port debate while some bad actors have been moving the satellite ports network forward.” 

Read full report here.