Supreme Court ruling opens way for Mexican trucks to enter US

July 1, 2004
A SUPREME Court ruling that opens the way for Mexican trucks to enter the United States is being cheered by those in the tank truck industry, as well

A SUPREME Court ruling that opens the way for Mexican trucks to enter the United States is being cheered by those in the tank truck industry, as well as the Bush administration.

In its June 7 decision, the Supreme Court said the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) did not violate regulations when it did not consider the environmental effect of the increase in cross-border operations of Mexican motor carriers, nor did it act improperly by not performing a full conformity review analysis for its proposed regulations.

“This is a long time in coming, and is a positive development for the tank truck industry,” says Cliff Harvison, National Tank Truck Carriers president.

Similar comments were expressed by the American Trucking Associations president. “Today's decision represents another important step in the continued growth of the American economy and the trucking industry,” said Bill Graves. “By upholding actions taken by President Bush and the Department of Transportation in support of NAFTA, the Supreme Court has opened the door for the continued improvement of the North American freight transportation system which will help increase trade between the United States, Canada and Mexico in a safe, efficient and seamless manner.”

The decision gives the US Department of Transportation (DOT) the opportunity to continue working with Mexican authorities to move forward with long-haul bus and truck operations, said Norman Mineta, transportation secretary. “I welcome the Supreme Court's unanimous ruling,” Mineta said. “Truly opening the market between Mexico and the United States for trucks and buses means more opportunities for American companies, more jobs for American drivers and better deals for American consumers. We are committed to a comprehensive approach to guarantee that trucks and buses operating within the United States are in compliance with all applicable safety and environmental standards.”

In addition, industry spokesmen speculate that the decision will now put Mexico under pressure to reciprocate by opening its side of the border to US trucks in accordance with the requirements of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The Supreme Court decision followed a lower court decision that has blocked Mexican trucks from operating beyond the 20-mile border zone until the Supreme Court heard the case. The lawsuit involved the environmental impact Mexican trucks would cause when allowed to enter the United States. The Supreme Court review was requested by DOT after the California appeals court ordered DOT to conduct environmental impact studies.

The initial lawsuit was filed by a coalition of environmental, consumer, and labor groups, including Public Citizen, the Teamsters, California Federation of Labor, the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF), the California Trucking Association, and Brotherhood of Teamsters, Auto and Truck Drivers, Local 70.