Denni Cawley – Executive Director, UPHE, 385-707-3677, email@example.com
Dr. Brian Moench – Board President, UPHE, 801-243-9089, firstname.lastname@example.org
Utah Physicians’ Statement on the Development of an Inland Port
In support of the community press conference today:
Date: May 23, 2018
Time: 9:30 am
Location: Corner of 500 South and Main Street
Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (UPHE) stands together with community representatives today to fulfill our mission of protecting the health and well-being of Utahns. We are here to encourage public engagement in discussions over the development of the Inland Port. This is not only an issue that involves the communities adjacent to the proposed port. This involves communities from the north to the south of the Wasatch Front. We are here to safeguard the hard-fought victories by communities, clean air advocates, and state and city level agencies to reduce air pollution and protect our families’ health. These wins will be clouded by significantly higher vehicle and in particular, cancer-causing diesel pollution that an inland port would bring in.
Just in the last two months key research and reports have highlighted Utah’s high lung cancer rates and that even small increases in pollution heightens the risk of lung infections for children. We are also in an area that ranks 8th in the country for short-term small particulate pollution and 18th for ozone.
Our state is barely meeting federal standards, while research already shows that pollution levels lower than federal standards cause increased mortality and stillbirth rates. This calls for a careful thought process and stakeholder engagement in any large development project. However, from the way the inland port authority bill was pushed forward behind closed doors, and in the wee hours of the legislative session, it is clear that multi-stakeholder engagement is not a priority of those who should be the champions of good governance.
We do not see any way this will project not bring a significant increase in Salt Lake Valley air pollution, freeway grid lock, and pressure for ever more freeway construction. Has there been adequate research and discussion on the environmental and health effects of an inland port before any bill was drafted? Will the community be assured that all fleets that enter/exit the area would be low emission vehicles? Will added traffic compete with much-needed smart development and infrastructure for cycling, walking, and public transport? How will the port affect communities who are already struggling with higher levels of pollution in their microenvironments, those who work late in the night and need to endure noise and light pollution?
The effects of air pollution are a somber litany to recite: premature deaths, strokes, heart attacks, brain disease and dysfunction, decreased lung function, cancer, still births, pregnancy complications, impaired fetal development and shortened life expectancy.
One life lost is not just a statistic. Neither is a hundred and definitely not a thousand. And we are already losing over a thousand lives a year to air pollution. We ask our leaders to create a transparent process and decision-making structure on the port that values Utahns’ health, environment and voice. Utah residents want and deserve a clean air, clean energy, and a clean future.
For immediate release:
May 22, 2018
Deeda Seed, Center for Biological Diversity
Dorothy Owen, Westpointe Community Council
Community members, air quality and conservation groups respond to
Envision Utah panel on the Inland Port
Planned Inland Port Development creates huge air quality, governance and conservation concerns
Utah leaders extolling the virtues of the inland port proposed for Salt Lake City’s northwest quadrant need to answer some hard questions about what the port will do to our air quality, and how it will impact fragile wildlife habitat next to Great Salt Lake.
At a news conference Wednesday, at 9:30 am on the south-east corner of 500 South and Main Street after Envision Utah’s panel on the Inland Port, members of the Community Coalition for Port Reform will outline their concerns.
The proposed inland port is in an area already out of compliance with National Ambient Air Quality Standards and an increase in transport activities will increase fine particulate matter pollution as well as volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides that form harmful ozone.
“Salt Lake City is the top 8th city in terms of short-term small particulate pollution in the country – and we know with recent medical research that this is linked to childhood lung infections, stroke, heart attacks and whole list of medical conditions. A large project like the inland port can tip the already precarious situation that our city is in,” says Denni Cawley, Executive Director of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment. She adds, “We are barely reaching federal standards, while research already shows that pollution levels lower than federal standards cause increased mortality and stillbirth rates. This calls for a careful thought process and stakeholder engagement in any large development. But the way the inland port authority bill was pushed forward it is clear that multi-stakeholder engagement beyond industry is not a priority.”
The air quality and other environmental health impacts will be felt most acutely by people in communities closest to the port, all of whom have been disenfranchised by the legislature’s creation of an unelected, and therefore potentially unaccountable “port authority”.
“Today we came to understand the best and worst-case scenarios for a Utah Inland Port, potentially the State’s largest economic development effort,” said Dorothy Owen, chair of the Westpointe Community Council. “What we now know is the recently enacted law directing this development creates the foundation for the worst-case scenario. Why? Because it ignores our most basic civic values; giving tremendous power to another unelected, unaccountable board to control the most basic health, safety, land use and taxation concerns of local communities. The law specifically eliminated the responsibility ‘to mitigate any negative impacts’ and to ‘to promote a high quality of life.’ This is NOT just another partisan political fight between government entities. Rather it is a struggle to maintain the community values and life-style we cherish in fashioning the future.”
In addition to the tremendous harm to human health, the port will also be a disaster for wildlife and the millions of migratory birds that depend on Great Salt Lake.
“The inland port as it is currently envisioned, would be built right next to the fragile wetlands, mudflats and playas of Great Salt Lake’s south shore. Millions of long-distance migrating birds rely on this habitat every year, some for nesting, others for resting and staging before they make their way to their final destinations,” said Heather Dove, President of Great Salt Lake Audubon. “This specialized habitat is one of the things that makes Great Salt Lake an important international conservation priority. The inland port will no doubt be run as a 24/7 operation and in its current version, will inflict tremendous noise pollution, light pollution, air pollution and collision hazards from tall structures to these migrating birds. We believe that the environmental community needs to be included as a partner at the table to minimize where possible the destructive practices that have been envisioned for this enormous industrial project.”
“The public is not being told that Port development presents grave risks to our communities, our health and our environment, nor how project enthusiasts intend to develop this project without turning the Northwest Quadrant of Salt Lake City into an industrialized environmental sacrifice zone” said Steve Erickson, Policy Advocate for the Utah Audubon Council.
“The process to date has been far from open and inclusive, mostly an insiders’ game conducted behind closed doors. We believe that the best way to prevent this Inland Port development from creating an environmental nightmare is to assure that it is done collaboratively, with openness and transparency, sound science and planning, consultation with stakeholders, and public participation. Utah citizens deserve no less,” Erickson said.