SITLA can’t benefit Utah students by contributing to pollution

Courtney Henley, UPHE board member, had an excellent op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune this week on the Utah Inland Port Authority’s (UIPA) attempt to purchase State Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) land to further their operations. The full op-ed is copied below.

Development in the Salt Lake City Inland Port project area. Photo by David Jackson Photography.

SITLA, State Institutional Trust Lands Administration, is in need of some strategic realignment.

On its website SITLA claims they are benefiting Utah schools and institutions by generating revenue for public schools through strategic land management.

Benefiting schools and generating revenue are mutually exclusive goals when it comes to the large parcel of land that SITLA owns at 6500 West in the Utah Inland Port jurisdiction. SITLA is poised to sell the parcel to Inland Port interests and the Utah Inland Port Authority is going to use taxpayer money to remediate the land.

Thanks to SITLA, after remediation UIPA plans to use more taxpayer money to incentivize development of a train-to-truck intermodal shipping terminal that will heavily pollute the area with diesel truck and train emissions.

Proximity to the airport means there will also be an increase in air freight and aviation emissions. Trucks and trains that have little to deliver along the Wasatch Front will start using the terminal solely for shipping stuff through Utah to other places.

The huge increase in train and truck traffic will have an even greater negative impact on the health and well-being of the students in the public schools near the shipping terminal and along the interstates and railways the trucks and trains will use.

This is where the strategic mission of SITLA comes into play. No amount of revenue is worth sacrificing the health and well-being of students. Over half of the schools along the Wasatch Front are a stone’s throw from the highways of the Salt Lake City Inland Port jurisdiction. This includes I-15, I-80, I-215, and state road 201. Students in schools proximal to heavy traffic suffer higher rates of asthma and illness and perform poorer on tests and school lessons because air pollution is detrimental to learning.

SITLA can benefit Utah students by finding another use for the land, or better, put it in conservation.

Or SITLA can generate revenue by greasing the wheels of a diesel polluting shipping terminal for Inland Port interests. But it cannot do both.

Courtney Henley, UPHE Board Member and board certified Physician Anesthesiologist