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Third Mexican carrier completes preliminary audit

Jill Dunn | December 05, 2011

While members of Congress and a federal court continue weighing issues concerning the cross-border trucking program with Mexico, a third Mexican carrier has completed its Pre-Authority Screening Audit.

A Nov. 29 Federal Register notice announced Moises Alvarez Perez, doing business as Distribuidora Marina El Pescador, of Tijuana, Baja California, has completed its PASA. The public may submit comment until Dec. 9. More information is available at http://federalregister.gov/a/2011-30735.

So far, the agency has granted operating authority to one of three Mexico-based carriers that cleared Pre-Authority Screening Audits. The FMCSA conducts these audits on Mexican carrier applicants to verify program compliance.

Transportes Olympic of Apodaca, Nuevo León, made the first crossing under the program on Oct. 21.

The FMCSA’s Federal Register Oct. 14 notice responded to public comment on the PASA of Grupo Behr of Apodaca, Nuevo León. The agency had planned to grant authority, but instead announced it would extend review of the carrier to investigate questions raised by groups commenting on its PASA results.

On Nov. 25, the agency also ended its comment period on revisiting the Certificate of Registration, or Form OP-2. The FMCSA sought the Office of Management and Budget’s permission to revise this form, required of Mexican carriers seeking to work within the commercial border zone.

The notice and the agency did not state what revision was sought, including in the July 22 Federal Register announcement, which received no comments.

On Oct. 31, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, (D-W.Va.), transportation committee chairman, expressed concern about “lax oversight” of the program in a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued the same briefing schedule for two lawsuits seeking to block the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s program, but has not combined the cases. The Teamsters union, Public Citizen and Sierra Club petitioned the court Nov. 15 and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association filed suit July 6.

The petitioners’ briefs and appendices are due Dec. 21, the FMCSA’s brief on Feb. 1 and the petitioners’ reply brief Feb. 22.

Dec. 21 also is the deadline for Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s response to an inquiry from Republican Reps. Peter King of New York, Homeland Security committee chairman, and Candice Miller of Michigan, chairwoman of the Border and Maritime Security.

The representatives’ letter stated Napolitano had not provided enforcement guidance for identifying regulation noncompliance by cross-border commercial traffic. The Safe Port Act of 2006 mandates DHS, in consultation with the Department of Transportation, also require these guidelines to state how noncompliance is to be communicated to federal authorities.

Congress had stipulated the guidance, to be issued by April 2008, be coordinated with FMCSA training and outreach activities. The issue was of particular concern because the cross-border program had been reestablished, they wrote.

“Given the numerous regulations and strict oversight your department places over our domestic trucking industry, we would hope that your department would take an equally active role in foreign carriers operating within the United States,” the representatives wrote.

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