Shareholders in California construction company oppose Parleys quarry

Locals say the project would endanger air quality, water supplies and wildlife.

Nearly a fifth of shareholders in a California construction company are concerned about a proposed limestone quarry in Parleys Canyon.

At their annual shareholder meeting on June 5, 18% of Granite Construction shareholders voted in favor of a proposal asserting that the company’s decision to pursue a mine in Parleys Canyon does not align with the company’s environmental and community engagement standards.

“The recent vote by Granite Construction’s shareholders shows what Utahns know — the company isn’t upholding its own commitments to protect air, water and the environment,” said Spencer Shaver, executive director of local nonprofit Save Our Canyons.

The proposal’s failure to garner a majority doesn’t spell the end for Granite shareholder advocacy efforts, said Danielle Fugere, president and chief counsel of As You Sow, a shareholder advocacy nonprofit that filed the proposal. Fugere reported that the nonprofit will continue to monitor the company and the quarry.

Since January 2022, Granite Construction has been working with Jesse Lassley, a Salt Lake City developer, to build a 20-acre mine in Parleys Canyon called the I-80 South Quarry.

The company says the quarry will provide the construction materials vital for sustaining population growth on the Wasatch front. Otherwise, according to Granite, Utah would have to truck in those materials from other states, resulting in more emissions and fuel use.

The shareholders’ proposal — along with residents, local officials and environmentalists — argue that the quarry threatens air quality, water and wildlife. Mining in Parleys Canyon would produce increases in fugitive dust and diesel exhaust emissions, according to critics, and risk polluting the watershed from which Salt Lake City residents get 20% of their water.

The company responded that it addressed the concerns about the project’s environmental impacts in a recent report, in which it claimed to manage fugitive dust, conserve water use and reclaim the land following extraction.

“Granite strives to create shareholder value and address relevant societal needs, while leveraging best practices in environmental stewardship,” said a spokesperson for Granite Construction. “We are pleased that our shareholders voted overwhelmingly against the shareholder proposal regarding the report on the I-80 South Quarry Project, affirming their strong support for how Granite conducts business with regards to sustainability and environmental stewardship.”

Critics add Granite hasn’t engaged with the local community’s concerns. “We would like to see them be more responsive to the community and potentially reconsider this project,” said Fugere.

The Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining permitted the quarry in August 2022 — with several conditions. Granite needs final approval from the Utah Department of Environmental Quality and a conditional use permit from Salt Lake County, which opposes the project.

In May 2023, it seemed that the Utah Division of Air Quality would soon approve the quarry, but the agency is still working through a deluge of public comments and has not rendered a final decision.