Utah Senate OKs bill that would monitor environmental impacts of the inland port

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Aerial photos of various Salt Lake points of interest including the proposed inland port area. Salt Lake Tribune, downtown, capitol, North Salt Lake.

The Utah Senate voted 26-2 in favor of a bill Monday that would direct the state Department of Environmental Quality to establish baseline environmental conditions in the inland port area planned for Salt Lake City’s northwesternmost side and to monitor any changes as a result of the development.

SB144, sponsored by Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, looks to monitor impacts on air and water quality as a result of both the port and the airport expansion.

“It just gives us an opportunity to know where we are right now, taking into consideration the airport and the emissions that are being emitted right now and moving forward with the data," Escamilla told lawmakers, “that could help us make better decisions as a state.”

The original bill would have monitored light and sound impacts, but the substitute passed Monday will not.

Inland port opponents have raised concerns about the possible impacts of the planned 20,000-acre distribution hub, which is expected to bring increased rail, truck and air traffic, along with tailpipe emissions.

Sen. Gregg Buxton, R-Roy, who noted that air quality has improved in Utah over the past decade, said the bill could help restore public trust in the port process.

“This will help the public in the northwest quadrant to understand that we’re serious about doing air quality things with the inland port and setting a basis and really, truly working to make sure that our inland port is a quality port with quality air controls,” he said.

SB144 will now move to the House for further consideration.