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Attorney General Lockyer Voices Disappointment with Supreme Court Ruling Allowing Unfettered Highway Access to Commercial Trucks from Mexico

Monday, June 7, 2004
Contact: (415) 703-5837

(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer issued the following statement on today's ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Department of Transportation v. Public Citizen, 03-358. The justices unanimously upheld a Bush Administration decision to grant higher-polluting commercial trucks from Mexico unfettered access to U.S. highways.

"The court's ruling is much more than a legal loss, because this case was about much more than the law. The Bush Administration action upheld by the justices takes California and the nation backward on the road to cleaner air and healthier people. A growing number of children suffer from asthma. For their mothers and fathers, this case was not about free trade, NAFTA or Mexico. It was about protecting our children by protecting our air.

"This is another environmental blow from a White House that, rather than helping states comply with clean air mandates set by the federal government, seems intent on undermining those efforts. Because this action will increase pollution, our state and local air quality officials now face the task of adopting new measures to counterbalance the harm and meet the federal requirements. Unfortunately, California's businesses may end up shouldering that burden."

California took the lead on a nine-state amicus brief filed in the high court opposing the federal decision. The states believe the action will worsen air quality, and they wanted the effect fully assessed so adequate mitigation measures could be adopted. The Supreme Court ruled the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was not required to perform such an analysis.

The commercial trucks from Mexico will damage air quality in Southern California, including Los Angeles and the Imperial Valley. Lockyer submitted to federal regulators an independent study that found operation of Mexican trucks in the Imperial Valley would increase emissions of nitrogen oxides in that region by almost one-third of a ton every day.

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