a us federal appeals court recently blocked President George Bush's plans to open all highways in the country to Mexican trucks. The court ordered that the vehicles could not be allowed entry until the authorities had conducted a study to ascertain how they would affect the environment.
It was observed that the Bush administration was guilty of violating federal environmental laws. The administration had permitted the entry of Mexican trucks beyond a 32-kilometre commercial border zone in November 2002 under the North American Free Trade Agreement (nafta).
The three-judge panel said the department acted "arbitrarily and capriciously" by not preparing a full statement on air quality impact as required by federal law. Mexican trucks are typically older and more polluting than their us counterparts. This despite the fact that us and Mexican air standards for diesel trucks are currently the same. While the us regulations are scheduled to become tougher in 2004 and 2007, Mexico has no such plans. The court prohibited their entry until the federal government carries out a safety examination of all Mexican motor carrier firms, with more than three vehicles. The status of each vehicle will be electronically verified. The validity of Mexican drivers' licences too will be verified. A distinctive number will then be given to trucks crossing the border.
This decision is a result of protests by a coalition of environmental, labour and trucking industry groups who filed a lawsuit against the us president's order allowing trucks to trundle in. It had contended that Mexican trucks would dramatically increase pollution, as many of them are old (pre-1994). Earlier, a special arbitration court set up under nafta had ruled that the us could not permanently bar the entry of Mexican trucks.
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