A monthly inland port meeting lasted just 15 minutes before it was canceled because of disruptive protesters Wednesday afternoon.
About two dozen people interrupted proceedings at the meeting with chants of “No inland port!” and “Abort the port!” before board chairman Derek Miller called a brief recess. After a few minutes, board members began to leave when it became clear the protests would not let up.
The inland port board is in the early stages of planning a large trading hub over 16,000 acres near the Salt Lake City airport to import and export goods.
Miller would not comment on the meeting or the protests.
A written statement from the board Wednesday evening called the protests “regrettable” and said the body is “committed to working collaboratively with all interested parties to address growth and challenges in a productive and safe environment."
The inland port’s executive director, Chris Conabee, said would be rescheduled for a later date.
Here’s the video. You can hear Miller trying to talk over the protests. He mentioned there’s a period of the meeting designated for public comment and threatened to cancel the whole thing (he eventually did). More tk. #utpol pic.twitter.com/xF0vgUVgw6
— Nicole Nixon (@_Nixo) April 24, 2019
But protestors said they would be at future port meetings, too.
“The end goal is that the port gets shut down,” said protestor Ethan Petersen of Salt Lake City.
He said he and other residents were frustrated that board members seemed to ignore their concerns about the impacts the project would have on residents’ health and the environment.
“We commented, we commented on the survey, we’ve voiced our opposition in all the ways they’ve given us thus far,” but plans for the project keep moving forward, Petersen said.
The inland port board had planned to receive a briefing about the process for adopting a budget and hear a presentation from the Audubon Society about an environmental buffer zone.
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski filed a lawsuit over the port last month. She accuses the state of usurping land use and taxing authority.
In the recent legislative session, lawmakers approved a bill that gives the port board authority to create projects in other areas of the state. Another bill will gather environmental data as the port gets up and running in order to track pollution.