Written Public Comment

1. Can you explain the UIPA’s 5-year strategic business plan?

The Utah Inland Port Authority was established in 2018 as a state corporation with the intent of creating long-term economic growth and empowerment throughout Utah via  the utilization and expansion of logistics infrastructure. The Authority is dedicated to promoting sustainable, equitable and smart logistics solutions, while responsibly safeguarding Utah’s precious and unique natural resources. Key objectives of the Authority include:

  1. Creating generational regional economic growth and empowerment
  2. Establish Utah as a leading, global trade logistics hub
  3. Advance sustainable and smart supply chains
  4. Be responsible stewards of the environment and local communities
  5. Effectively manage UIPA resources

2. What is the port doing to reduce emissions while meeting this greatly increased demand?

The UIPA has signed 8 agreements with both public and private companies working in the renewable energy sphere. We’ve recently announced partnerships for two large, designated truck  parking locations within the jurisdictional area. These two locations, one north of I-80 and one south of I-80, will provide safe and secure overnight locations with plug-in auxiliary stations and electric charging pedestals to help keep trucks out of neighborhoods and off roadsides.

3. Washington has revealed a $2 trillion plan to rebuild US infrastructure and the domestic supply chain, will any of that money go towards this project?

Building and strengthening logistics infrastructure is a primary focus of the Authority. Leveraging available funding structures will help us in our initiative to move cargo and freight in and through Utah cheaper, faster and more efficiently. This should include a substantial portion of the government’s infrastructure fund.

4. What are the main challenges currently facing the US supply chain and what should be the new administration’s priorities when rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure?

Long, fragile supply chains and  accompanying data security are among the leading  infrastructure challenges facing the nation. Our top priorities include partnering with West Coast ports to help increase speed and efficiency. Other goals include partnership agreements to get containers intended for our region off the ships/docks, onto rail, and straight to Salt Lake City where it’s then transloaded at the Authority’s port facility. Improvements in rail infrastructure in and around the state of Utah are also a key priority.

Additionally, we’re working with partners to develop a private 5G/LGE network to enable powerful visibility into logistics data, location, etc. We’re placing a high priority on sustainability and smart logistics, helping Utah lead the way in revolutionizing the global system through research and development of autonomy and automatization of logistic, as well as cargo handling equipment.

5. How has the role of inland ports changed in recent years? Do you anticipate more growth as pressure increases on seaports?

Over the years, inland ports have become a release valve for seaports as they are often located in areas where there are fewer land constraints. Inland ports offer proximity to rail and highways, less congestion and parking for trucks, along with vital storage and service.

6. Digitalization has been a big area of investment for seaports. Are you seeing the same trends at inland ports?

Yes. Digitalization is a high priority in many fields these days and ports are no exception. We’re working with partners to develop a private 5G/LGE network to enable high visibility into logistics data, location, etc. We’re also prioritizing sustainability and smart logistics to help Utah revolutionize the global system through research and development of autonomy and automatization of logistic and cargo handling equipment.

7. Many Utahns have major concerns regarding environmental impacts, most specifically water supply and air quality. With our limited fresh water resources, how is it possible that water consumption at the Inland Port would not have adverse consequences for residents?

As residents of Utah, safeguarding the environment and improving air quality rank  among our highest concerns. A primary objective of the Port Authority is to drive sustainable, equitable and smart logistics investments.

In order to safeguard Utah’s air quality, the following sustainable building practices have been implemented in buildings north of I-80 through partnership agreements between the Port Authority and developers:

  • Thermal mass panels
  • Low VOC paints
  • Skylights
  • LED lighting
  • Solar energy
  • LEED certifiable
  • Low water use, natural landscaping
  • EV charging stations

The Authority is also working with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality on baseline air quality data collection, as well as storm water collection. Data will be available on our website as it becomes available from the divisions of Air Quality and Water Quality.

In October 2020, the Port Authority signed the Utah Climate and Clean Air Compact along with more than 100 Utah business, government, faith and civic leaders. The compact’s vision is to be responsible stewards of Utah’s future. UIPA is also working to promote sustainable industry practices and reduce emissions.

Our Executive Director, Ben Hart, sits on the Utah Clean Cities Coalition Board of Trustees—an organization that focuses on decarbonizing fleets, clean fuel strategies and green investment.

Additionally, the Port Authority has a seat on the board of Utah State University’s Advancing Sustainability through Powered Infrastructure for Roadway Electrification (ASPIRE) Center. This center is working toward widespread electrification of all vehicle classes, improved air quality, and public infrastructure that provides inexpensive, convenient and seamless charging experiences. UIPA, ASPIRE and Rocky Mountain Power have partnered to launch a pilot program focused on transportation electrification research and advancement, as well as innovative energy technologies.

8. Why is the state building a Port on swampland? The new Utah Prison is 4 years late and millions over budget. The poisons used to kill mosquitoes and disease-laden insects in the area will kill people. Why would we want to place people in such a dangerous situation?

It’s important to note that the Port Authority has no land-use authority whatsoever. Development in the northwest quadrant of Salt Lake City has occurred for many years, and the Port development is a result of the zoning and land use planning by municipalities, such as Salt Lake City, West Valley City and Magna.

We exist to mitigate and influence how things are built in our jurisdiction. While development would have happened in the area whether or not UIPA existed, we are optimizing  the opportunity to carefully and responsibly choose and influence how development takes place.

We are actively working with the National Audubon Society to secure and preserve the land that municipalities have designated and zoned as natural areas. Additionally, UIPA and Audubon are working to impose a buffer to separate and protect the critical shorebird and related habitat of the Great Salt Lake.Finally, we’re also working with municipalities to develop a storm water and water quality master plan for the jurisdictional area.

9. Permanently damaging our home state in the name of economic growth seems very short-sighted. Your plan will inevitably lead to huge damage to our air quality and overall quality of life in the valley. Why not take this opportunity to build infrastructure representative of the 21st century?

The environment and air quality are among our top priorities, along with investment in technologies that will help create a truly modern system maximized for sustainability. 

The land within the jurisdiction is owned and entitled by the municipalities and will be developed with or without the Port Authority. Our mission and overall objective is to make sure that development will be sustainable, equitable and smart. 

10. I have heard a suggestion to limit public attendees and comment periods regarding this project. Do you feel limiting the amount of public people attending and shortening the time for comments will increase input and transparency?

The UIPA will never limit the number of public attendees during any of our meetings and we comply fully with the Open and Public Meetings Act. We welcome all public comments and questions through the FAQ page on our website.

11. Data suggests the pollution imprint of the Inland Port will exact hundreds of millions and possibly billions of dollars from local communities in the form of dollars spent on pollution-related health diseases.  How has the board addressed this concern?

The UIPA has used a robust data-gathering process while preparing our 2020-2024 Strategic Business Plan, which enables data-driven decisions on how we can improve environmental and economic outcomes. The plan includes the best available data sources analyzed using both regional and national modeling techniques, giving the most complete look to date at industry and community conditions and impacts in Utah. The planning process was led by CPCS, a national consulting firm that specializes in transportation and logistics analysis and policy.

The baseline data shows what is currently happening and what is forecasted if nothing alters current practices. This information can be found in the plan itself, technical appendix, and scenarios comparison on our Strategic Business Plan page.

While the Utah Inland Port Authority does not have land-use authority or environmental regulatory authority within inland port areas, we continue to work to initiate and incentivize sustainable development standards. We encourage the development and use of cost-efficient renewable energy in project areas and pursue policies to avoid or minimize negative environmental impacts of development.

The Port Authority has not drafted an environmental impact study because we have not embarked on any development that initiates  the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process.

12. How many electric heavy-duty trucks currently operate within UIPA jurisdiction?

We are currently working with ASPIRE on a demonstration project center with the aim of widespread electrification of all vehicle classes, improved air quality and public infrastructure that provides an inexpensive, seamless charging experience. UIPA, ASPIRE and Rocky Mountain Power have partnered to launch a pilot program focused on transportation electrification research and advancement as well as innovative energy technologies. As data becomes available on cargo handling equipment that data will be available on our website and the ASIPRE center website.

13. Why should we have an inland port in Utah, and why now?

UIPA will fulfill its economic development role by utilizing and implementing infrastructure as an enabler rather than an end goal. Infrastructure such as rail, road, air, traditional technology and green technology will expand industry and benefit Utah communities. How this growth and innovation happens and the industry types generating these forces matter to the state and local neighborhoods and economies.

The UIPA’s focus on local economies will empower businesses and industries to provide high-wage jobs and strong economic multipliers. The Inland Port has an ability to bring in physical assets through infrastructure, while aligning resources needed to ensure these businesses find the Port an attractive set of locations knitted together to suit their specific needs. 

Local logistics activity—including distribution and fulfillment centers, trucking and rail terminals and manufacturing facilities—tend to cluster along Utah’s major transportation routes. Utah is a prime location with direct connections to three major western gateways along the West Coast, helping funnel goods from those seaports out into the Midwest. A full 40 percent of the nation’s GDP flows through Utah from western ports, and having a Port Authority gives Utah greater access to the market, particularly for exports

14. Who pays for the Inland Port?

As a state agency, the UIPA obtains funding from state appropriations and property tax differential. Additionally, UIPA may obtain funding in the future from other sources for its lines of business, infrastructure development, strategic investments, development financing and advisory services. The use of tax differential to advise activities and outcomes is the primary tool of the UIPA.

15. Is the UIPA in accordance with the Open and Public Meetings Act?

The Port Authority continually works hard to be in accordance with OPMA. The Open and Public Meetings Act (OPMA) requires that members of a public body be “provided with annual training on the requirements of [the Open and Public Meetings Act]” (Section 52-4-104). The UIPA Board completed its annual OPMA training on October 5, 2020. Paul Morris, legal counsel, provided the training. 

16. What is a Project Area?

UIPA is developing a system of rural connections, or Project Areas, that serve as nodes throughout the Utah logistics system. These locations will form a complementary system of freight consolidating and movement assets to facilitate the efficient movement of goods in and through the state.

Specifically, a Project Area is a geographic area with defined boundaries that has been adopted by the Port Authority board for the purpose of regional economic advancement and generates tax differential. Each Project Area will have its own unique focus.

Logistics Projects are defined as rail, truck, air or similar projects that serve regional businesses or optimize the region as a destination for desired economic growth. These projects are intended to catalyze trade activities statewide, providing synergies necessary to boost imports and exports, improve access to domestic markets and facilitate transit of goods and products of key Utah industries. The development of these locations is also intended to help rural areas of the state better position themselves to participate in—and grow because of—the new market economy that will create better jobs for the future of Utah.

17. What is the Port Authority doing to minimize environmental impact?

Sustainability is at the heart of all UIPA partnerships, programs and policies in jurisdictional areas. While UIPA does not have land use authority in  jurisdictional areas, we are committed to realizing sustainable development through coordination with all relevant public and private stakeholders in the region. The UIPA framework for sustainable development consists of green, resilient and equitable themes, each with distinct objectives and dimensions.

Green: Carbon neutrality and net zero emissions are the aim of all development within  UIPA jurisdictional areas. Through the identification and preservation of ecological zones surrounding the jurisdictional area, we encourage balanced development and pursue policies to avoid or minimize negative environmental and health impacts. Greenhouse gas analyses and sustainable development targets will also guide UIPA’s business partnerships as the port partners with developers who are willing to implement emissions reduction technologies.

Resilient: Developments are purpose-built and increase the capacity of the Inland Port Area to withstand environmental, economic, supply chain and social events. Mitigating negative development impacts on the natural environment and local communities is essential to the long-term success of the Project Area. Therefore, land use strategies will encourage dense and diverse development that makes for an efficient Port with minimal ecological impact.Equitable: Communities affected by Inland Port Area developments are directly consulted as part of planning processes to promote improved accessibility, economic opportunity, connectivity, health, safety and quality of life. Development aims to integrate the jurisdictional area with the natural landscape and local communities, all while creating the necessary environmental buffers. The creation of open spaces, multi-use employment and clustering development all play a role in UIPA’s efforts to meet this standard.

18. What is the UIPA doing about air quality?

Air quality is a top concern for Utahns and the UIPA, and we are committed to promoting sustainable development and logistics through partnerships, policies and programs.

We work closely with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality—the environmental regulator in the state—on implementing best practices to meet and exceed federal and state standards. This comes through sustainable logistics, development and industry.

Developers are mitigating air quality concerns by adopting the sustainability strategies set forth by the UIPA framework, while businesses operating in the jurisdictional area can deploy zero- and near-zero emission technology. A key objective for UIPA is switching from conventional gasoline and diesel fuels to zero- and near-zero emission fuels in the heavy-duty vehicle sector. Due to the anticipated shift from conventional energy sources to electricity for transportation operations, energy demands are expected to exceed supply. This indicates a need for utilities to increase energy production, where clean and renewable sources are used.

19. What buildings are the UIPA planning to build in the Inland Port?

The UIPA does not own or control the property within its jurisdictional boundary because the Port Authority has no land use authority. Zoning decisions within UIPA’s jurisdictional boundary rest with municipalities—Salt Lake City, West Valley City and Magna. This means the Port Authority cannot determine what is built on the parcels in its jurisdictional boundary. However, we can influence how things are built.

UIPA’s jurisdictional boundary is a construct to determine property tax differential, which is levied on the difference between current land values and improvements made on the land to increase its value. While Salt Lake City keeps a portion of the tax differential and a separate percentage of it goes to municipalities for affordable housing, the Port Authority uses the remainder to advance sustainable development and investments through partnerships, policies, programs and bonding.

20. Where is the new railyard going to be built?

It’s important to understand that the Utah Inland Port Authority is not a place and has no plans to build a new railyard. Instead, the Port Authority is a system of infrastructure connections and developments working together to benefit the state and its citizens. These connections keep goods flowing to consumers and the supply chain moving efficiently.