In September of last year, Draper City went head-to-head with Geneva Rock, a company that wanted to expand its gravel mining operations in the city. The city, fearing that the mining operations would harm their environment, denied the company the right to expand its operations. Two months later, the city declared that moving forward, it would restrict all mining in the city.
At the time, the story seemed like a victory of Draper and a loss for Geneva Rock – but one legislator is trying to change all of that. Rep. Logan Wilde had presented a bill that, if passed, would make it more difficult for cities to dictate where gravels pits can and cannot operate.
The bill has been wildly controversial, sparking harsh criticism from Draper City politicians and members of the Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, an organization that protested Geneva Rock’s expansion. Residents had told KSL that they see it as “an attempt to circumvent the city’s decision,” while members of the Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment have warned that the bill would jeopardize residents’ health.
Rep. Logan Wilde, however, sat down with KSL Newsradio’s Ethan Millard on Monday to talk about his bill and why he believes that it really is in the best interests of the state.
Rep. Logan Wilde on the gravel pit bill
Sand and gravel, Wilde says, are critical to Utah’s economy, as well as its health and safety.
“We need to look at these as not just merely sand and gravel,” he says. “We need to look at this as critical infrastructure materials.”
Responding to criticisms about gravel pits’ impact on the environment, Wilde argues that the impact of having a city full of unpaved roads would far more serious. Gravel and sand, he argues, has to be mined for infrastructure to exist.
The real question, however, isn’t whether we should stop mining gravel altogether. It’s where it should be mined. Wilde, however, insists that moving those gravel mines away from cities like Draper and Lehi would cause more problems than it would fix.
“The biggest cost value in sand and gravel is transportation right now,” he says. “If I truck it in, all I’m doing is increasing the congestion on the freeways. I’m increasing travel time, which increases pollution.”
Building infrastructure to support companies like Geneva Rock transporting gravel across the state, he says, could triple the expense of a single project, limiting the state’s ability to develop its highways.
Wilde says that he understands that people want a say in where they live and, to that effect, says he has modified his bill to ensure that homeowners who live or plan on buying a property within a thousand feet of a planned gravel pit are notified that the gravel pit is being built.
“We want you to be aware before … you purchase your home,” Wilde says. “We don’t [want to] have the public coming back to us afterward and saying: ‘Hey, I didn’t know this was there.'”
Wilde’s bill passed through a House Committee on Friday and is expected to move through the legislative process over the coming weeks and months. Stayed tuned to KSL Newsradio for every update as this story progresses.
More to the story
Rep. Logan Wilde sat down with KSL Newsradio’s Ethan Millard for a full hour, explaining this bill and others that are being pushed through the Utah Legislature, sharing a view in unprecedented detail.
If you missed the show live, you can still catch everything he had to say on the Dave & Dujanovic podcast.
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