Court asked to review cross-border program

Jill Dunn | October 01, 2011

Teamsters and Public Citizen Sept. 2 petitioned a federal appeals court to review the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s plans to proceed with a cross-border trucking pilot program with Mexico.

The organizations filed the Petition for Review with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Attorney Jonathan Weissglass, a partner at Altshuler Berzon, which is representing the Teamsters, said unlike a complaint, the petition does not detail the legal challenge that is discussed later in briefing.

“But I can confirm that we do intend to raise that the standard of simultaneous and comparable access for U.S. trucks to Mexico is not met because of the lack of widespread availability of ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel (in Mexico) and that the requirement of safety equivalence is not met because of Mexico’s lower vision standards,” Weissglass said.

The FMCSA issued a statement that the plaintiffs “have not directly served” the FMCSA with a lawsuit. When it is served, the agency “will review and address the filing.”

In 2002, Altshuler Berzon attorneys obtained a ruling from the same appeals court for the plaintiffs and other organizations to block the previous cross-border program with Mexico, which the U.S. Supreme Court overturned in 2004.

The move to replace the former program has divided groups in roughly the same way as during the past cross-border trucking program.

While some congressional members have supported the program, others have opposed it, including longtime opponent Rep. Pete DeFazio. On July 6, the Oregon Democrat introduced the Protecting America’s Roads Act to restrict the pilot program. H.R. 2407 was referred to committee with 16 co-sponsors.

Other bills sought to limit or withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement that paved the way for opening the border between the two nations.

On June 22, Rep. Marcy Kaptur introduced the NAFTA Accountability Act, or H.R. 2287. The Ohio Democrat’s bill would assess NAFTA’s impact to require negotiation of some provisions and to provide for the withdrawal from the agreement unless certain conditions are met.

In January, Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C) introduced H.R. 29 to provide a way to withdraw from NAFTA, which was referred to committee with 10 co-sponsors.

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