Court Rules Mexican Truck Operations Must Conform to State, Local Laws
Scheid, Justin, Nation's Cities Weekly
In an important victory for dries, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that in the ease of Public Citizen v. U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), USDOT cannot forsake state implemented emission limits for pollutants under the Clean Air Act and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
The decision requires the USDOT to prepare full environmental impact statements under NEPA before approving the operation of Mexican motor-carriers in the United States.
In the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) it was agreed that Mexican trucks would be allowed to travel freely on all U.S. highways beginning in January 2002. In response, labor and environmental groups filed a suit in March 2002 because NAFTA did not provide requirements that Mexican trucks would have to comply with U.S. pollution standards.
In November of 2002, President Bush ordered Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta to lift the moratorium imposed under NEPA and the Clean Air Act on approving the entry of Mexican trucks before an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) is conducted.
Under the Court's January 16 decision, it ruled that NEPA requires an EIS for all "major federal actions significantly affecting the human environment." In addition, the Court ruled that the uncertainty of the level of pollutants from Mexican trucks requires an EIS, particularly if NAFTA creates an increase in cross-border trucking, directly affecting the level of emissions in local environments. …