A bill designed to prevent older, Mexican
trucks that are more likely to cause pollution from operating in California is
on its way to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk.
The bill, AB1009, introduced by
Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, would require all trucks entering
California – including those entering from other parts of the United States or
from Mexico under NAFTA – to meet the U.S. emissions standards in effect for
the truck’s model year.
The bill received final approval from the
California Senate Aug. 26 on a vote of 27-10; the Assembly OK’d the Senate’s
amendments Aug. 28 by a vote of 56-23.
Environmental groups across the country –
concerned that older, Mexican trucks would mean more pollution here – opposed
allowing the trucks to enter the United States.
Assemblywoman Pavley’s office told Land
Line the bill, which was written as a public health measure, was introduced
in response to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.
Mexican-based trucks have been limited to
a slim commercial border zone since 1982. But with NAFTA, signed in 1993 by the
United States, Mexico and Canada, Mexican trucks and buses were supposed to be
given full access to U.S. roads beginning in 2000. However, court challenges –
involving an unusual combination of trucking and environmental groups – stalled
the entry of Mexican trucks.
On June 7 this year, the Supreme Court
ruled unanimously that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was not
required to study the environmental impact of Mexican trucks operating within
the United States – thereby paving the way for those trucks to enter the
Pavley said it was her understanding that
the court’s decision would prevent federal officials from enforcing U.S.
emissions laws on the trucks crossing the border. So she hopes to give
California officials the power to step up to the plate.
An official with Pavley’s office said the
bill not only targeted Mexican trucks, but any trucks that enter California.
Pavley chose that course of action, her office staff said, because it was a
consistent application of the rules and was consistent with the terms of NAFTA,
the North American Free Trade Agreement.
However, the bill will not require the
out-of-state – or out-of-U.S. – trucks to follow California’s more stringent
environmental regulations, Pavley said, because likely that would not stand up
under the international trade agreement or other laws.
“We believe there may be a legal
challenge” if the California rules were applied, she said. “But federal emissions
standards - which are, I admit, not as stringent as California laws =
will meet legal scrutiny.”
– by Mark H. Reddig, associate editor