A federal appeals court yesterday blocked President Bush's plans to open all United States highways to Mexican trucks, ruling that the administration could not open the roads until it conducted a study of how the trucks would affect the environment.
The Ninth Circuit Court of San Francisco said the U.S. Dept. of Transportation (DOT) must prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement and Clean Air Act conformity determination before it can open the U.S.-Mexican border.
In its ruling, the court found that the DOT "acted arbitrarily and capriciously" by failing to prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement.
"In a rush to open the border, the administration failed to pay attention to the health concerns of U.S. citizens," said International Brotherhood of Teamsters general president James Hoffa. "We are pleased that the court recognized the inherent dangers of the department's policy and is enforcing our nation's laws."
The lawsuit was brought by a coalition that included the Teamsters, Public Citizen, the Environmental Law Foundation and the California Trucking Assn. The group feared that admitting Mexican trucks would hurt the air and water, endanger safety, hurt American trucking companies and take jobs from American truck drivers.
President Bush on November 27 said he would give Mexican trucks free access to U.S. highways as soon as more than 130 pending applications from Mexican truck companies were reviewed for safety and other matters.
According to the Teamsters, Mexico does not have strict controls on diesel emissions, and Mexico-domiciled diesel trucks have already dramatically increased air pollution in the western border states.