Sierra Club, Public Citizen, and Teamsters Join Forces to Protect Air Quality, Health of Border Regions
August 29, 2007
The Sierra Club joined forces with Public Citizen, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and the Environmental Law Foundation to challenge a pilot program that would allow Mexican big rig trucks to operate on U.S. highways. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s proposed cross-border trucking program fails to follow Congressional mandates for evaluating its impact on health and safety. Allowing these long-distance hauling companies to operate in the U.S. will lead to traffic congestion and increased air pollution in border areas, which are already burdened by high pollution levels. The exhaust fumes of these trucks contain chemicals that are likely carcinogenic, in addition to contributing to respiratory illnesses such as asthma and bronchitis. The Department of Transportation neglected to analyze and address these risks, as called for by the National Environmental Policy Act. In addition, the pilot program breaks laws requiring the Department of Transportation to create a program that yields statistically valid findings; show that U.S. trucks have the same right to travel in Mexico that Mexico-domiciled trucks have to travel here; and reveal the inspection results for all motor carriers allowed to drive beyond the border zone before the program starts.
"We are proud to stand up with Public Citizen and the Teamsters against this attempt to circumvent health and safety protections," said Carl Pope, Executive Director of Sierra Club. "Before providing unconditional access throughout the country to tens of thousands of big rigs we know little to nothing about, we must insure they meet safety and environmental standards."
June 1, 2004
In early June the Supreme Court gave the Bush Administration a green light to allow outdated and polluting Mexican trucks onto American highways. The decision upholds a NAFTA requirement that trucks be allowed free rein on U.S. highways despite non-compliance with the Clean Air Act and other U.S. clean air laws. Sierra Club had originally stepped in as a friend of the court to stop any weakening of environmental protections. Unfortunately, the decision means that many communities are going to experience even dirtier air as these outdated trucks hit the road.
April 1, 2004
The Club joined with a diverse coalition as a friend of the court to urge the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a ruling that the Department of Transportation (DOT) must comply with domestic laws requiring a full assessment of the environmental and public health threats that might result from permitting a huge new influx of heavy trucks from Mexico. The coalition is defending a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that held that the transportation agency violated federal laws by failing to conduct a thorough review of the environmental impacts of the truck traffic. Because most trucks used to haul freight from Mexico are older and less subject to emissions controls, they are likely to emit much more deadly particulate matter and nitrogen oxides than U.S. trucks. The Supreme Court agreed last December to review the case at the request of the Bush administration. A decision is expected in June 2004 following oral arguments in April.
Details and Documents:
For Mexican Trucks, A Road into the US
September 9, 2007 by Gretel C. Kovach, New York Times
Mexico trucks to roll on U.S. highways
September 1, 2007 by John Crawley, ABC News
Teamsters to Try to Block Mexican Trucks
August 30, 2007 by Jesse L Holland (AP), Guardian Limited
See other "Safeguarding Communities" cases.