BREAKING NEWS: FMCSA proceeding with cross-border plan

| 8/17/2007

Friday, Aug. 17, 2007 – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced this morning its intent to move ahead with the Mexican truck pilot program. In a 27-page notice in the Federal Register, the agency also reported that a necessary piece of final paperwork has been submitted to Congress and is expected to be made public any day.

After being stubbornly silent on the project, in the Aug. 17 Federal Register, agency officials reacted with a statement that FMCSA has “reviewed, assessed and evaluated” the required safety measures outlined in the May announcement.

Madeleine Chulumovich, spokesperson for the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General’s Office, confirmed for Land Line today that Congress now has the IG’s regular audit on eight Section 350 requirements. An additional evaluation demanded in June 2007 via a provision in the Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act is not yet complete. Chulumovich said there was no time frame on that report but that the IG was working “expeditiously” to finish it.

As soon as the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Inspector General’s follow-up report to Congress has been approved and the FMSCA tends to any follow-up actions raised by the IG, it’s full speed ahead.

In response to this morning’s announcement, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association expressed disappointment in learning the Mexican cross-border trucking pilot program is set to begin against the will of the public and their elected representatives.

“We are gravely concerned, but not surprised by the administration’s announcement,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA.

“They are determined to open our highways to Mexico-domiciled trucking companies and truck drivers regardless of the concerns that have been raised by Congress and the American people.

“To this point, the administration’s response to congressional directives related to the program has been minimally compliant at best. They certainly haven’t adhered to the spirit of what Republicans and Democrats in Congress intended in recent legislation.”

In the announcement notice, officials from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration revealed that it had received about 2,330 public comments on the program and that “most of the commenters expressed concerns that Mexico-domiciled trucking companies pose a safety risk to the traveling public.”

While the vast majority of the comments were submitted by individuals and were “no more than a few sentences,” the FMCSA notice stated that a number of groups and organizations had submitted detailed comments, including OOIDA, AFL-CIO, the Teamsters, the ATA, the Oregon DOT, Public Citizen, PATT, CRASH and 114 members of Congress.

All of those groups, and more, were opposed to the program.

FMCSA cited a few specific comments in support of the program, which came from the San Antonio, TX, Chamber of Commerce, the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation and U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona.

In its comments, OOIDA stated that the FMCSA has not met the legal requirements to begin the pilot program, which would allow 100 Mexico-based trucking companies to operate in the U.S.

In the notice published Friday, the FMCSA officials flatly state that they have met those legal requirements “through past rulemakings and other agency actions.”

The announcement in the Federal Register came two days after the Mexican transportation secretary issued a press release stating that the Mexican government had decided to stick to the implementation date set for late August. 

To read the Federal Register document containing today’s announcement, click here.

– By Land Line staff