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AM News Brief: Inland Port Advances, Murray Energy Reemerges & Romney Criticizes Biden Investigation

Photo of inland port sign.
Brian Albers / KUER
Utah’s Inland Port Authority is moving quickly to drum up business for the controversial distribution hub in northwest Salt Lake City. This story and more in the Thursday morning news brief.

Thursday morning, September 17, 2020

Northern Utah

Inland Port Moves Ahead, Critics Remain Vocal

Utah’s Inland Port Authority is moving quickly to drum up business for the controversial distribution hub in northwest Salt Lake City. At a meeting Wednesday, board members gave updates on their progress over the summer, noting there are 85 active projects in the port area. But like previous meetings, the bulk of the time went to public comments, which all expressed skepticism that an inland port could be built without impacting the environment and that board members were taking those concerns seriously. Despite the negative feedback, UIPA maintains the inland land port will help Utah recover from the economic downturn and connect local businesses to the world. — Jon Reed

Murray Energy Holdings Gets New Name, Ownership

Murray Energy Holdings has emerged from federal bankruptcy protection under a new name and ownership group. The major U.S. coal mining company ran Crandall Mine in Emery County when it collapsed 13 years ago, killing six miners and three rescue workers. Company spokespeople said the Chapter 11 plan was approved in federal bankruptcy court and became effective Wednesday with a sale of its assets to an entity formed by former creditors. The new company based in Ohio, American Consolidated Natural Resources Inc., is the largest privately-owned U.S. coal operator with active mines in Utah and four other states. — Associated Press and Diane Maggipnto

State

Utah COVID-19 Cases Spike

Utah is in the throes of a COVID-19 spike, according to state epidemiologist Angela Dunn. Wednesday state health officials announced 747 new cases of the virus. Dunn urged people to continue to wear masks and practice social distancing. She said these preventative measures have been shown to help slow the spread of the virus. Utah’s seven-day case average is now up to 585 with an 11% positivity rate. — Ross Terrell

Region/Nation

Romney Criticizes Biden Investigation

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney is sharply criticizing a GOP investigation into Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's son. Romney said it is "not the legitimate role of government" to try and damage political opponents. He commented Wednesday as a Senate committee pressed ahead with a review of Hunter Biden's activities in Ukraine. The panel's Republican chairman insists the effort is not designed to hurt presidential candidate Joe Biden and there is no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens. The panel plans to issue a report on Hunter Biden's activities in Ukraine before the November election. — Associated Press

Democrats Push For Internet In Native Communities

Senate Democrats are pushing the Federal Communications Commission to expedite broadband connectivity in Native communities as the pandemic increases the need for remote services. Nearly half of tribal households on rural reservations lack reliable internet. In a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, the group of 14 Senators urged action on connecting Native communities to honor federal trust responsibility and ensure resources in the midst of COVID-19. — Beau Baker, Mountain West News Bureau

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