Administration to assess impact of Mexican trucks

| Thursday, August 28, 2003

The Bush administration will comply with a federal appeals court order and study the environmental impact Mexican trucks would have on U.S. roadways, The Associated Press reported.

The study would analyze short- and long-term environmental impacts and should take a year to 18 months, DOT said.

In a news release, the Transportation Department's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said it awarded a $1.8 million contract to Fairfax, VA-based ICF Consulting to prepare the study.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stopped a proposal to allow Mexican trucks to operate beyond U.S. border commercial zones in response to a lawsuit filed by environmental, labor and trucking groups. The groups said the Bush administration had not determined the impact of emissions from the trucks on the environment.

Government may still appeal

Transportation officials decided to go ahead with the study, though it is still considering appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court so roadways can be opened to the trucks expeditiously, said Andy Beck, spokesman for FMCSA.

Joan Claybrook, president of the consumer group Public Citizen, said the government should drop its court appeals.

“I think they just ought to bite the bullet and do the environmental impact statement and then move on,” Claybrook said.

Transportation officials had until June 30 to file court documents asking the Supreme Court to review the case, but the court has twice extended that deadline. The department now has until Sept. 9 to seek the review. A decision could take longer than the study, Beck said.

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexican trucks were to have gained full access to U.S. roads beginning in 2000. But the Clinton administration, under pressure from labor and consumer groups, refused to grant them entry. Mexico successfully challenged the moratorium through a free trade tribunal.

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