Letter: Let’s have that recommended follow-up audit of the Utah Inland Port Authority

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) A sign in opposition to the Utah Inland Port Authority are seen on the floor of the State Capitol before a meeting of the port’s board, Thursday, May 11, 2023.

Utah Inland Port Authority (UIPA) has proposed “project areas” in wetlands surrounding the Great Salt Lake, from Brigham City to Spanish Fork. Building in these areas further threatens the future of this vital lake.

As The Tribune has reported, newly named Speaker Mike Schultz R-Hooper, has filed two applications to drill wells near the Great Salt Lake to allow him to pump more than 550 acre-feet of water each year from springs and groundwater from an aquifer in Box Elder County. At a time when the Legislature has been criticized for not doing enough to deal with the shrinking Great Salt Lake, Schultz said he plans to build one or two reservoirs and use the water to raise livestock and hay on a 25,000-acre ranch that he recently acquired.

KSL has reported that Schultz will be leaving the UIPA board. “Mike’s role in shaping the inland port and its achievements cannot be overstated,” Ben Hart, executive director of UIPA, said in the statement. In a recent port authority meeting, which Shultz attended virtually from his car, he was adamant that UIPA would have the last say over any decisions made by Salt Lake City in the Northwest Quadrant. Ideas that Salt Lake City proposed about spending money that their contract with UIPA insures have been basically ignored.

The legislative auditor conducted an audit of UIPA and as a result recommended a follow-up audit. Sen. Jerry Stevenson, who is also a member of the UIPA board, insisted that this was not necessary and it was not conducted. As a Utah taxpayer, I expect greater accountability from legislators and feel the recommended follow-up audit of UIPA be ordered by the legislative audit committee immediately.

Monica Hilding, Utah Environmental Caucus Chair, Salt Lake City

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