April 16, 2003
Appeals Court Reinforces January Decision That Government Must Assess Environmental Impacts of Mexico-Domiciled Trucks Before Opening Border
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A federal appeals court has delivered another blow to the government’s efforts to allow polluting Mexico-domiciled trucks on U.S. roads without assessing and attempting to mitigate the trucks’ environmental harm.
On April 10, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) petitions for a rehearing by the review court as well as review by the whole court of its January ruling. The appellate court had ruled that the Bush administration violated environmental law when it announced last November that it was opening U.S. highways to long-haul trucks from Mexico to comply with the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The court has told the government that it must complete an Environmental Impact Statement as required by the National Environmental Policy Act and a Conformity Statement as required by the Clean Air Act. The DOT is required to study the impact of increased air pollution on border-state communities and, where necessary, develop plans to lessen the anticipated harm, before it can move toward processing applications for cross-border trucking.
“Places like Houston and Los Angeles already suffer from strangling smog,” said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook. “The federal government should be obeying the laws designed to curtail pollution. We’re pleased the court is not backing down.”
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit were Public Citizen; the Brotherhood of Teamsters Auto and Truck Drivers Local 70; the California Labor Federation; the California Trucking Association; the Environmental Law Foundation; and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Planning and Conservation League were petitioners-intervenors. The lawsuit was filed in May 2002.
Click here to view the court’s January ruling.