CARB says opening border will bring more older, dirtier trucks to U.S.

| 9/4/2007

Mexican trucks may be revving up to cross U.S. borders, but they’re likely to face tough emissions enforcement in one state. You guessed it – California.

While some drivers have criticized the California Air Resources Board for its ever-tightening emissions regulations, the agency has made a compelling argument against the U.S. allowing Mexican trucks free reign into American territory.

In January 2005, CARB published an overview regarding the Mexican truck phase of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The report said that allowing Mexican trucks to travel beyond the current 20-mile buffer could increase the number of border entrances into California by as much as 500 percent. It also said Mexico’s lack of rules governing nitrogen oxides and other hazardous greenhouse gas emissions will bring an additional 50 tons per day of NOx and 2.5 tons of particulate matter into California’s South Coast Air Basin alone.

The report also made specific claims about Mexican trucks, including:

  • 66 percent of Mexican trucks are 1993 models or older. 1993 was the first year that most new diesel engines had mostly electronic fuel injection.
  • 25 percent of Mexican trucks are 1979 model year or older, emitting “very high levels of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.”
  • From 1994 to 2003, Mexico’s diesel engine emission standards matched the U.S. EPA standards, but Mexico hasn’t revised emissions standards “to reflect recent U.S. standards” that require 50 percent reduction in NOx for 2004-2007 engines and a 90 percent reduction in NOx and particulate matter for 2007 and newer engines.
  • Mexico doesn’t require use of ultra-low sulfur diesel, already a U.S. requirement.

CARB’s planned mitigation strategies include “continued aggressive enforcement of the Heavy Duty Vehicle Inspection Program along the border region” and at the twin ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach. According to CARB statistics, trucks in those regions “typically have failure rates for excessive smoke emissions and/or tampering at approximately two times the statewide average.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer