Truck or train, pollution persists

Rail doesn’t always mean less emissions. A port, however, always means increased emissions.

UPHE and our partners at the Stop the Polluting Port Coalition met with Utah Inland Port Authority (UIPA) officials recently and addressed misnomers in claims that a port could clean up our air. 

The UIPA has been suggesting that air quality will improve by upping rail transportation of freight, while an analysis of California ports shows that trucks are increasingly producing less pollution than the dirty engine trains that are typically used

So there are some real problems with the language being used and the rationale being used to try and convince people that there isn’t going to be more air pollution here,” Brian Moench, president of UPHE, said at the meeting. “Frankly, we just don’t believe it.”

Port officials also said that they are not getting the access to the Union Pacific rail yard they thought they were. Since, plans have been released to fast-track a purchase of LDS Church owned land for rail operations. A process that again, has lacked transparency. 

“We really have no context for understanding your discussion on your three resolution items,” STPP Coalition partner, Deeda Seed, said of the deal at a Port hearing last week. “With regard to this rail project, we really have no information about what it is and when Director Hedge uses words like ‘public need’ and ‘public purpose,’ and the public doesn’t know what you’re talking about, it’s becoming absurd.

“There are so many things that the port authority has been exploring or committing to that the public doesn’t know about,” Seed said. “It all raises questions about how the money is being spent, how the decisions are being made and if there’s added value from a public subsidy.”

A resolution passed to exercise eminent domain to obtain the church property. The Port is touting the land as a means of increased circulation, especially north of i-80, for freight. The land lies south of 80, however, making the plan to push rail traffic north unclear.

The Salt Lake Tribune’s coverage of our meeting with UIPA.

The Tribune’s coverage of UIPA’s intent to fast track a land purchase for a rail yard.