On Feb. 1, 2022, Conserve Utah Valley delivered a packet to members of the Utah State Senate and House. Enclosed were the following letter, along with the 6000 petition signatures from our dontpaveutahlake.org petition.
Feb. 1, 2022
We are a group of highly concerned citizens watching a process that feels already so far down the road, that we can only look to you and bring greater awareness to concerns with Utah Lake.
Utah Lake Amendments — Support of HB240 Utah Lake Amendments
As we have dug into the parties, processes, and timelines behind the current proposal just submitted to NEPA by Lake Restoration Solutions, we are alarmingly concerned that the taxpayer and citizens are protected, that the long-term consequences to an ecosystem are considered, and that we can slow down a proposal that appears to be full steam ahead while minimizing any public dialogue. This also includes a SLAPP lawsuit filed against a respected scientist and critic for $3 million. (See Sources)
Problematic in the legislation HB272 is the clause that approval may be granted by only the legislative management committee. We are addressing potentially the largest transfer of public lands in the history of Utah in exchange for dredging islands. We hope that our legislators will adopt the additional scrutiny proposed by HB240, Utah Lake Amendments that entrusts the entire Legislature, in a multi-opportunity public process to review and provide the oversight that we have entrusted to your care in such an important matter.
As our legislators, we also ask that you do all in your power to increase scrutiny with regard to the claims, financing, legality, engineering, and proposed overhaul of an entire ecosystem so that the requirement is to do ONLY what is best for the LAKE and exercise wisdom for future generations.
In addition, we appreciate the added clause that the project must be fiscally sound and fair. Taxpayers and future generations should not be left on the hook for the potential of failed engineering and long-term island maintenance, in addition to significant changes to the ecosystem. Recent research into the finances behind the transactions is murky and deserves some additional protections for clarity.
While the project has been submitted to NEPA, and we have been told NEPA controls the public process, it was discovered in the Tribune article that the applicant requested the proposal be protected. As over 90% of projects pass NEPA’s process and are approved, we are relying on you to be the guardrails and stewards of this proposal.
Please fix the process mistakes in the original bill by voting YES on HB240-Utah Lake Amendments – Rep. Keven Stratton.
Utah Lake Authority — Opposition of HB232 Utah Lake Authority
The Utah Lake Authority is patterned after the Inland Port Authority, a special service district enmeshed in scandal, bullying, and a troublesome start. This bill increases government and creates a new governmental entity with the power and authority for land use and taxing authority. As an appointed board, the legislature would be authorizing them to tax citizens in a new level of bureaucracy that consists of appointments. You are giving them the right to issue bonds and bind the taxpayers of Utah County to increased taxes. Cities, neighborhoods, and those we have elected to make important decisions will be cut out.
In its current form, HB232 has not had the benefit of public process. While the bill sponsor has said the bill has nothing to do with the Island project, it creates an authority that has power over land use in the Lake Authority map. As the Island project contemplates up to 20,000 acres of land, understanding how that authority is applied to that potential land is paramount. Representation in those decisions is also essential, and that doesn’t come through an appointed, largely anonymous to the public, board member.
We ask that you slow this process down and allow for a series of public hearings on the matter to be held over the coming year. Let’s take the time to vet the proposed authority structure with citizens, the cities, the county, and legislators. When Lake Restoration Solutions is more forthcoming with the public about the details in their plans, we can more fully vet the proposed set-up of a Lake Authority.
We ask you to vote NO on the Utah Lake Authority Bill and request it to go through more thorough vetting before adding more government.
We appreciate your service and leadership,
Executive Director, Conserve Utah Valley
- “Artificial islands as real estate? The murky finances behind the Utah Lake Restoration Project” Salt Lake Tribune, Jan. 30, 2022, p. A4
- “BYU professor speaks out on lawsuit, fundraisers set up on his behalf” The Daily Herald, Jan 21, 2022
Enclosed in this packet:
- Letter from over 100 scientists and experts
- Invite to our Rally at the State Capital on February 7th, at 5 pm
- Petition with 6000 signatures against development of Utah Lake