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Attorney General Lockyer Stresses Importance of Mexican Truck Case to Air Quality, Public Health

Supreme Court Hears Arguments; California Leads States' Opposition To Free Access
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Contact: (415) 703-5837

(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer issued the following statement regarding oral arguments heard today by the U.S. Supreme Court in Department of Transportation v. Public Citizen, 03-358, a case challenging the Bush Administration's decision to grant commercial trucks from Mexico free access to U.S. highways.

"The Bush Administration should be helping states comply with clean air mandates set by the federal government, not hurting those efforts as it has in this case. All California and other states are asking is that the Bush Administration obey the law and fully assess the environmental damage that would be caused by allowing higher-polluting trucks to travel freely on our highways. A growing number of children suffer from asthma. For their mothers and fathers, this case is not about free trade, NAFTA or Mexico. It's about protecting our children by protecting our air."

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 want the effect fully assessed so adequate mitigation measures can be adopted. Their 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 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 discover the extent of the pollution problem they would have to address.

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