Hoffa to Bush: Free trade snake oil

| 12/20/2002

Teamsters Union President James Hoffa said Dec. 17 President Bush's decision to open the border to environmentally unsound Mexican trucks "has placed the future of homeland security and public health in the hands of exploited and poorly trained Mexican drivers."

Last May, environmental, labor and business organizations, including the Teamsters Union, Public Citizen, the Environmental Law Foundation and the Natural Resources Defense Council, filed a lawsuit in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to block the trucks from traveling north of the border.

On Nov. 27, President Bush lifted the moratorium on Mexican trucks traveling throughout the United States. The court is currently considering a request by the coalition for an emergency stay until the environmental impact of the decision can be assessed.

In a Dec. 17 statement, Hoffa said "Free trade is nothing more than snake oil when two countries don't apply the same set of rules, and tens of thousands of American workers will pay the price."

Hoffa also said: "The (Department of Transportation) ignored the National Environmental Policy Act, and with no meaningful facts to back it up, the agency found 'no significant impact' and insisted that opening the border would not harm the environment.

"This, despite studies showing that Mexican trucks on average generate 150 percent more smog-forming nitrogen oxide and 200 percent more dangerous particulate matter than U.S. trucks.

"In addition, there is no system in place to systematically inspect the emissions of trucks coming over the border from Mexico. These trucks may also be exempt from a 1998 settlement with manufacturers requiring U.S. trucks to remove "defeat devices" that permit them to test clean at inspection sites but run dirty on the highway."