Forget the NAFTA Superhighway for a second and think NAFTA Trucks. That's right, multinational trucking companies are trying to use NAFTA to deregulate our transport safety regulations.
Five groups sued today in federal court to block a Bush administration plan to allow Mexico-domiciled trucks to roam the country’s highways as soon as Saturday.
The suit, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, maintains that the Bush administration’s pilot program, which authorizes up to 100 carriers based in Mexico to perform long-haul operations within the U.S., violates several key congressional requirements. The groups filing suit include Public Citizen; the International Brotherhood of Teamsters; Sierra Club; Environmental Law Foundation; and the Brotherhood of Teamsters, Auto and Truck Drivers, Local 70. The groups filed an emergency motion asking the court to delay the pilot program before it goes into effect in a matter of days...
In 2001, a NAFTA tribunal ordered the U.S. to fully open its border to Mexico-domiciled trucking companies. In response, the Bush administration said it would implement a pilot program to allow up to 100 motor carriers from Mexico full access to U.S. highways. However, the project violated U.S. laws governing the conduct of pilot programs, in addition to a 2001 congressional mandate that Mexico-domiciled trucking companies meet U.S. safety standards regarding hours of service, driver training and licensing, and vehicle safety before being allowed access to the nation’s roadways.
Congress this year held hearings examining the plan to allow trucks from Mexico to travel beyond the border zones. Lawmakers uncovered serious safety deficiencies and deemed the pilot program a sham and in violation of existing law. In response, Congress passed a measure designed to ensure that any pilot program does not circumvent safety standards or congressional oversight and that such a program is conducted within strict parameters designed to facilitate informed decision making.
On Aug. 6, the Department of Transportation Inspector General released a report finding that the system used to monitor Mexico-domiciled carrier drivers with license convictions is not yet adequate. Officials still don’t have the data necessary to identify drivers not permitted to operate on U.S. highways. Further, the system designed to ensure that Mexico-domiciled carriers comply with U.S. motor vehicle manufacturing safety standards is incomplete, and it is not clear whether the drug and alcohol testing program is functional, the inspector general found.
This ain't about Mexican or American people, folks, cuz its mostly U.S. multinationals that operate in Mexico and are the ones pushing the NAFTA attack on safety standards. Welcome to neoliberalism, where any channel is as good as the next if the cause is deregulation.
Read more from Sen. Sherrod Brown's (D-Ohio) office after the jump.
Brown Supports Teamsters In Bid To Block Mexico Trucking Program
OFFICE OF U.S. SENATOR SHERROD BROWN
For Immediate Release
Thursday, August 30, 2007
BROWN BLASTS ADMINISTRATION’S NAFTA TRUCK POLICY
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown today announced support of an injunction filed today in the U.S. Court of Appeals to block a pilot program allowing long-haul Mexican-domiciled trucks to operate within the United States. The pilot program is scheduled to go into effect this weekend.
“Whether it’s product safety, food safety, or road safety, you can count on the Bush Administration to compromise it,” Brown said.
The administration has yet to complete several steps requested by Congress this spring before the pilot program could begin. These steps include publishing information about the inspections of Mexican-domiciled truck carriers that will operate beyond the border zone, ensuring U.S. truck carriers be granted the same authority to operate in Mexico, and establishing a system for statistical findings so that an informed judgment may be made regarding the pilot program.
The pilot program was included in NAFTA after lobbying by the trucking industry to open the U.S. border fully to Mexican-domiciled trucks.
“Congress asked the administration to use caution. Now the administration is running a red light,” said Brown.
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