Public Citizen, the Teamsters, and the Sierra Club filed an opening brief earlier this week on our lawsuit to stop the Obama administration's illegal program to allow unsafe Mexico-domiciled trucks to travel throughout the United States. It's the latest development in the story about how NAFTA may force the United States to lower its highway safety standards by permitting Mexico-domiciled trucks on its roads.
NAFTA included a requirement that all three countries’ highways be fully accessible to trucking companies based in any NAFTA nation by 2000, an item pushed by large U.S. trucking firms seeking deregulation and lower wages. However, the Department of Transportation studies have found that Mexico-domiciled trucks have much worse safety records than U.S. trucks, so public opposition has stymied attempts to open all U.S. highways to these trucks. In 2007, Congress put strict conditions on any pilot program that would evaluate the performance of Mexico-domiciled trucks on U.S. highways.
The Obama administration chose to ignore some of Congress’s conditions when it initiated a pilot program this October. Under the program, Mexico-domiciled trucks entering the United States do not need to show that they are built to U.S. safety standards, nor do drivers of these trucks need to meet all physical standards required of U.S. drivers. Furthermore, the administration did not follow proper procedures when conducting an environmental impact assessment. The program does not even serve its stated purpose of evaluating the ability of Mexico-domiciled trucks to operate safely in the United States, since there is no plan to collect a statistically valid sample of program participants. Finally, Congress insisted that any pilot program achieve comparable access for U.S. trucks in Mexico, but due to the limited availability of certain fuels, the program does not guarantee reciprocal access to Mexico for U.S. trucks.
For more background on NAFTA trucks, visit our landing page on the issue.
(Image courtesy of the Missouri Department of Transportation)