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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Inland Port Authority held its first meeting in months Thursday at the State Capitol, electing a new chairman and taking public comment while protesters continued to make their objections heard.
The organization’s August meeting was canceled due to protesters after anti-port demonstrations in June and July led to clashes with police that resulted in arrests. Thursday’s meeting saw tension, protesters ejected and three arrests, but was able to move forward.
Several protesters were removed from the meeting right off the bat as some activists blew whistles, hidden under surgical masks, to try to drown out the beginning of the proceedings. As they were picked out and escorted from the room, the port authority board voted to elect Salt Lake City Councilman James Rogers its new chairman for a one-year term.
Rogers replaces Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber.
Jack Hedge, the port authority’s executive director, also gave a report at the meeting. Some attendees jeered as he read a prepared statement acknowledging protesters’ concerns, but after the meeting Hedge reiterated the need for transparency.
“We’ve got to do a better job of letting people know where we are and what we’re doing,” Hedge said.
Activist Clark T. Clements was one of many who expressed concern about the port’s impacts during the public comment period. “We don’t have any kind of plan that we can assess, any kind of environmental impact statement or health assessment. And we don’t know exactly what industries they’re planning on putting out there,” he said.
The comment underscores the uncertainty surrounding the port as it faces stringent opposition even in its early stages of planning.
Contributing: Kelli Pierce, KSL Newsradio; Andrew Adams, KSL TV