Fourth Inland Port approved despite community opposition

“Utah board approves 4th inland port location amid environmental concerns,” a KSL headline reads, breaking the unfortunate news to the 1,200 concerned local  residents who signed a petition in hopes the Port Authority (UIPA) would rethink their location. 

The newest approved location called “Golden Spike Project Area ” by the port authority, drew such intense criticism due to its proximity to the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services writes that “these marshes are the largest freshwater component of the Great Salt Lake ecosystem and are an oasis for waterbirds and wildlife.” 

Canal Reflections at the Bear River Bird Refuge

UIPA’s executive director, Ben Hart, told that “port authority leaders are aware of the concerns and will look for ways to mitigate impacts as the project comes together in the near future, including “environmental buffers” between new development and the refuge, possible conservation easements and adjusting lighting so that it’s more wildlife friendly.”

The Ports initial location on the west side of Salt Lake City has been in disarray since its inception. A recent Salt Lake Tribune article exposed that residents have been on the hook for $120,000 every month and will be for the next 40 years for absolutely nothing due to poor planning by UIPA. Five years later, still no human health risk assessment or environmental impact statement has been completed by the port. 

Photos from the SLC Inland Port location. Courtesy of David Jackson Photography.

 They also recently approved a Spanish Fork location, without releasing a detailed business plan, as well as a Cedar City location. 

The presence of freight transfer and industrial facilities across Utah can significantly impact both the quality of life and climate change concerns. Utah railroads use some of the dirtiest switcher locomotives in the country. UIPA has demonstrated no meaningful attempts to utilize clean energy. The expansion of such facilities raises concerns about air and water pollution, noise levels, and traffic congestion, which could negatively affect the overall well-being and health of communities. 

As Dr. Brian Moench put it, “we need better angels.”

Find KSL’s full coverage here.