US Highways Opened to Mexican Trucks
Mexican trucks currently make about 4.5 million border crossings each year
WASHINGTON, DC - 06/10/04 - The Supreme Court has ruled that President Bush can open the US highway network to Mexican trucks, bringing the US into compliance with a provision of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
The Supreme Court unanimously overturned a ruling by the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that required the US Department of Transportation (DOT) to conduct an environmental study on the impact that Mexican trucks would have on air quality if permitted to operate in the US.
Since 1982, Mexican trucks have been permitted to operate only in commercial corridors within approximately 20 miles of the US-Mexican border, transferring their cargo to US carriers for transport throughout the country.
In November 2002, the President ordered the opening of all US roads to Mexican trucks, a measure the US previously agreed to under the provisions of NAFTA.
Environmental, labor, consumer and trucking organizations, however, opposed the opening of the border and called for the department of Transportation (DOT) to conduct an environmental assessment.
They said the DOT had underestimated the impact older diesel Mexican trucks would have on air quality in border states, especially in cities like Los Angeles that have struggled to reduce pollution to comply with the federal clean air law.
The agency did an initial environmental review and decided the extensive study mandated in the lower court ruling was not required.
Mexican trucks make about 4.5 million border crossings each year, according to US government figures. Mexico has said it has suffered billions of dollars in economic damages from the moratorium.
The US government argued the appeals court ruling prolonged a significant trade dispute with Mexico, which the President sought to resolve under the trade agreement that took effect in 1994.
Government lawyers said the delay in compliance with the agreement has caused Mexico to continue its parallel restrictions on US trucks and to threaten new trade sanctions.
The groups that brought the lawsuit estimated that 34,000 trucks from Mexico would be on US highways in the first year alone. By 2010, trucks from Mexico would likely emit twice as much of certain pollutants as US trucks, they said.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the court's opinion that the DOT did not violate the law or environmental regulations and that it did not have to do a full environmental review.
"We therefore reject (the groups') challenge to the procedures used in promulgating these regulations," he concluded in the 19-page opinion.
The ruling does not mean that Mexican trucks will start rumbling onto American highways immediately.
The Administration is still working with Mexican officials on issues of how it will conduct safety audits of trucking companies, including the question of whether US inspectors will go into Mexico.
Hundreds of applications from Mexican trucking firms must also be processed and approved.
"I would suspect you will see some Mexican trucks" on US roads "before the end of the year," said Luis de la Calle, Mexico's former deputy trade minister who has been working on the issue for nine years.
Even then, Mexican trucks aren't expected to venture beyond the border states in large numbers, because they can carry freight only on routes between Mexico and the US, not from one point inside the US to another.
back, or read the latest Front Page stories:
US-China ''Under-War'' Intensifies
WASHINGTON, DC – 09/06/05 – Washington is requesting consultations with China seeking ''safeguard relief'' on exports to the US of ''certain types of synthetic filament fabrics and for brassieres and other body-supporting garments;'' the move comes as US manufacturers claim the US market continues to be ''disrupted by Chinese imports'' and follows a stalemate in US-China discussions aimed at crafting a comprehensive textile trade agreement acceptable to both sides.
New Orleans Port Damage Update
NEW ORLEANS – 09/01/05 – ''The outcome is not good and it's being aggravated by unexpected flooding conditions following the storm,'' says Gary LaGrange, president and CEO of the Port of New Orleans. ''Yesterday, I thought the damage could have been worse, but today, I'm not so sure;'' the first priority, LaGrange says, ''is to provide peace of mind to the citizens of New Orleans and our employees who have lost so much. It won't be overnight, but eventually we will bounce back bigger and better than ever.''
Greenspan Cautions Against Deficits, Protectionism
WASHINGTON, DC – 08/31/05 – An alarming tilt toward protectionism and the reluctance of US lawmakers to deal with chronic budget deficits are the most serious threats to continued US economic growth, says outgoing Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan; the fears of workers threatened by displacement ''must be addressed through education and training, not through restraining of competition that is essential to economic flexibility and overall rising standards of living,'' Greenspan said at a last week’s Central Bank conference in Wyoming.