We last updated you on the controversial cross-border trucking program with Mexico when an agreement was quietly signed in July. (FAIR Legislative Update, July 11, 2011) That agreement re-starts a pilot program that has repeatedly been delayed due to concerns over public safety, national security and American jobs. FAIR is concerned that the trucking program, which only does full inspections for the first three months, would create additional loopholes in border security. We have also reported in the past on human traffickers using long-haul trucks to cross the border with their cargo area loaded with individuals trying to get into the U.S. Most recently, however, a new problem emerging from Mexico’s problem has jumped to the forefront – the concern over the detrimental environmental impact the cross-border trucking program will create. Earlier this week, the environmental powerhouse Sierra Club joined with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a long-standing opponent of cross-border trucking, to express its concerns to the Department of Transportation (DOT). (Teamsters, Sierra Club: FMCSA Fails to Protect the Environment from Mexican Trucks, August 15, 2011)
In comments submitted to the DOT, the two powerful groups argued that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has dropped the ball on sufficiently evaluating the environmental damage that could result from the trucking program. The FMCSA did conduct a Draft Environmental Assessment in early July, but the agency limited the scope of its assessment to only the environmental impact associated with border inspections. The Teamsters and Sierra Club pointed out one particular omission, questioning why the FMCSA has not required Mexican carriers to certify that Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel fuel be used in the long-haul trucks that cross our border, a fuel which is used in the U.S. but scarcely available in Mexico.