Groups opposed to allowing Mexican trucks to operate in the United States are using a new line of attack to keep the border closed: diesel engine emissions.
A coalition led by Public Citizen, the Environmental Law Foundation and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters is suing in U.S. federal court in San Francisco to prevent Mexican trucks from operating on U.S. highways because they emit high levels of diesel particulates. The group is seeking an emergency injunction to prevent proposed federal regulations opening the border to Mexican trucks from becoming effective tomorrow.
The lawsuit claims that trucks from Mexico will dramatically increase U.S. air pollution because, of the 30,000 Mexican diesel trucks predicted to enter the U.S. this year if the border opens, many are pre-1994 model trucks that emit higher levels of particulate matter (PM) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx).
The coalition added that Mexican trucks are not obligated to meet new diesel emission standards that go into effect starting in October 2002. By 2010, the groups claim Mexican trucks will emit more than twice the allowed levels of PM and NOx emissions as U.S. trucks.
"Trucks that cross our border from Mexico must meet U.S. emissions standards," said James P. Hoffa, president of the Teamsters. "Unless these standards are met, we should not allow these trucks to further pollute the air we breathe."