WASHINGTON - June 7 - NAFTA's latest blow to environmental protections came today as the Supreme Court allowed the Bush Administration's plan to allow outdated and polluting Mexican trucks onto American highways to move forward.
"The Bush Administration has basically told these old, polluting trucks they can go ahead and mess with Texas, and New Mexico and Arizona, and the rest of the country for that matter," said Stephen Mills, Director of Sierra Club's International Program. "The bottom line is that a lot of places that already have bad air are going to experience even dirtier air if these trucks are allowed in."
The North American Free Trade Agreement requires that participating countries allow trucks across their borders. However, because Mexican freight trucks are older and not subject to the Clean Air Act and other U.S. clean air laws, they will emit more dangerous particulate matter and nitrogen oxides than U.S. trucks. These pollutants can severely aggravate asthma, lung disease, heart disease and other health problems. Many areas in states bordering Mexico already suffer from unhealthy air.
In March, the Sierra Club joined with a diverse coalition as a friend of the court in the case urging the Supreme Court to uphold a ruling that the Department of Transportation (DOT) must comply with domestic laws requiring review of the environmental and public health threats that will result from permitting a huge new influx of heavy trucks from Mexico. The Sierra Club supported the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision holding that the transportation agency violated federal laws by failing to conduct a thorough review of the environmental impacts of the truck traffic.
"This is yet another example of how the Bush Administration's approach to trade puts communities at risk and weakens our hard-won clean air protections," said Mills. "The Bush Administration shouldn't put trade deals ahead of public health. Instead they should make sure that environmental protections are part of trade agreements."