U.S. Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
Monday, August 26, 2003
Contact: Andy Beck, 202-366-8810
FMCSA to Prepare Environmental Impact Statement Addressing Effects of Mexican Trucks in U.S.
The U.S. Department of Transportation's (USDOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced that it will prepare a programmatic environmental impact statement (EIS) and a general conformity evaluation (GCE) to meet the requirements of a United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decision in Public Citizen v. Department of Transportation.
The court's decision prevented FMCSA from implementing safety rules governing the entry of Mexico-domiciled carriers into the United States until a more thorough environmental analysis had been completed, and effectively blocked the Bush administration from implementing the truck and bus provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
"FMCSA is ready now, and will be ready whenever the Mexican border is opened, to ensure the safety of border operations," FMCSA Administrator Annette M. Sandberg said. "We will begin work to comply with the court's ruling but not to the exclusion of other legal avenues, including the possibility of asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the lower court's decision."
FMCSA is responsible for ensuring the safe operation of commercial motor vehicles within the United States. As part of these responsibilities, FMCSA in May 2001 issued regulations to ensure the safe operation of Mexico-domiciled trucks and buses in the United States.
These rules established application procedures for Mexico-domiciled carriers seeking authority to operate in the United States beyond the border commercial zones and set forth safety monitoring procedures for all Mexico-domiciled carriers operating anywhere in the United States.
FMCSA conducted a programmatic environmental assessment (EA) of the proposed rules, which found they would not have a significant environmental impact. FMCSA therefore concluded that a full EIS was not necessary and issued a finding of no significant impact and interim final rules in March 2002. However, the court determined that the EA was insufficient and that a more detailed EIS and GCE under the Clean Air Act were necessary.
FMCSA awarded a $1.8 million contract to ICF Consulting, Fairfax, VA, to prepare a fully developed environmental impact statement that analyzes the short- and long-term environmental impacts of Mexican trucks operating beyond the border zones. FMCSA estimates that the EIS will be completed in 12 to18 months.
As part of the scoping process, FMCSA is soliciting comments on the environmental issues and topics appropriate for inclusion in the analyses. After completing the scoping comment process and an environmental analysis, FMCSA will prepare a draft EIS to address the environmental concerns identified by the public. This draft EIS will be made publicly available for review and comment. FMCSA will then prepare a final EIS and issue a record of decision that considers and responds to comments concerning the draft EIS.
Also as part of obtaining public comment, FMCSA plans to hold a series of scoping meetings at several locations throughout the United States. Members of the public and other interested parties will be invited to attend the meetings and be given another opportunity to submit comments about the scope of the EIS and GCE. Information about the location and times for the meetings will be published at a later date and posted on the Internet.
Comments on the scope of the EIS should be sent by Nov. 7 to NAFTA EIS, P.O. Box 4050, Merrifield, VA 22116-4050; toll-free fax (800) 260-9702; toll-free telephone (800) 288-5634. Comments may be submitted at
www.fmcsa.dot.gov/cross-border/eis/. This notice appears in today's Federal Register.
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