SALT LAKE CITY — The state's top court has agreed to hear a lawsuit filed by Salt Lake City's mayor over the inland port project.
The Utah Supreme Court scheduled arguments on April 21 in the case. The lawsuit, launched by former Mayor Jackie Biskupski, essentially accused the state of an illegal land grab when it designated thousands of acres of land west of the airport for the massive project. A judge rejected Salt Lake City's arguments and Mayor Erin Mendenhall appealed that decision.
The inland port is a massive import-export center that bypasses a traditional customs port. The project has faced heated opposition, particularly from environmental groups, who have argued it will increase air quality problems already along the Wasatch Front and its proximity to the Great Salt Lake will also harm the ecosystem there. Previous protests of Inland Port Authority meetings have resulted in arrests.
The Utah State Legislature has passed bills to advance the project. The most recent bill creates a $75 million fund to fuel rural Utah portions of the port project. On Wednesday, a coalition of civic and environmental groups called on Governor Spencer Cox to veto the bill.
They argued that Senate Bill 243 had very little public input when it passed in the last week of the session and would allow a board of appointed people to spend taxpayer money to make loans to private businesses.
"This legislation is another example of our legislature creating unaccountable boards to approve expenditures of public money," community activist David Scheer said in a statement released through the Center for Biological Diversity, which opposes the project. "This anti-democratic bill does not serve the public’s interest, and the Governor should veto it."