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Proposal To Study Environmental Impacts Of Inland Port Gets First Approval

View of great salt lake from foothills.
iStock / TerryJ

As the state prepares to set up an inland port on more than 16,000 acres adjacent to the Salt Lake City airport, a state lawmaker who represents the area worries about how development could affect air pollution in nearby communities.

That’s why Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, wants to begin gathering data about the area’s air, water, traffic noise and light pollution right now, before the massive economic development project starts to get underway.

The Democratic senator pitched the proposal to lawmakers on the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee on Tuesday as an opportunity for responsible economic growth.

“I know everyone’s heart is in the right place when it comes to this amazing economic development,” she said. “I’m here to encourage starting this in in the right way.”

Escamilla said the bill, which comes with a $500,000 price tag to purchase monitoring equipment, would establish “baseline” environmental data in westside communities and track environmental changes as the area develops.

Some rural legislators gawked at the cost of the bill and suggested the money could be put to better use in their districts.

Sen. David Hinkins, R-Orangeville, said he’d prefer to see the inland port “downsized and at least spread out throughout the state.”

Hinkins ultimately voted to pass the bill after Escamilla promised to address his concerns before a Senate floor vote.

The committee voted 4-3 to move the legislation forward.

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