Attorney General Lockyer Files Amicus Brief in U.S. Supreme Court Supporting Challenge to Federal Rules Allowing Free Access to Mexican Trucks

Friday, March 12, 2004
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer, joined by the Attorneys General of eight other states, today filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court supporting a challenge of the Bush Administration's decision to grant commercial trucks from Mexico free access to U.S. highways.

"This action is not anti-free trade, anti-NAFTA or anti-Mexico," said Lockyer. "This is about protecting our residents' health and making sure the federal government fulfills its statutory duty to help states achieve those objectives. Our children increasingly suffer from asthma. And states struggle to meet clean air mandates set by the federal government. All we're asking is that the Bush Administration comply with the law and fully study the potential environmental damage that would be caused by allowing higher-polluting trucks to travel freely on our highways."

The commercial Mexican trucks at issue would 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.

In January 2003, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the federal government violated the Clean Air Act by not properly assessing the environmental effects of its decision to grant Mexican trucks unfettered access to U.S. highways. The Bush Administration appealed to the high court.

California is the lead state on the amicus brief filed today in Department of Transportation v. Public Citizen, 03-358. Other signing states include: Arizona, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin.

The Bush Administration's decision, the brief contends, would allow Mexican diesel trucks to "enter already-polluted air basins, raising the level of ozone and toxic pollutants that potentially millions of amici states' residents must breathe." The brief makes the following main arguments:

The president's foreign affairs powers and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) are not affected by meeting the mandates of the Clean Air Act and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) violated the Clean Air Act by failing to analyze the air pollution effects prior to making its decision granting access to Mexican trucks.
FMCSA's action likely will worsen violations of federal air quality standards, a result that would directly contravene the Clean Air Act.
FMCSA is fully capable of complying with the Clean Air Act. If it believes the mandates create an undue burden, it should make its case to Congress, not the courts.
FMCSA violated the NEPA by not preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) on its Mexican truck rules. An EIS would allow states to know the extent of the pollution problem they would have to address.

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PDF icon 04-034.pdf203.6 KB
PDF icon 04-034.pdf203.6 KB