FMCSA starts Mexican truck study

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has awarded a $1.8 million contract to ICF Consulting, Fairfax, VA, to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) that analyzes the short- and long-term impacts of Mexican trucks operating beyond border zones in the United States. The study is the result of the recent lawsuit filed against the agency by Ralph Nader-founded activist group Public Citizen, which sued FMCSA over allowing Mexican trucks full access to U.S. roads as called for under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). FMCSA said it could not implement safety rules governing the entry of Mexico-domiciled carriers into the U.S. until a more thorough environmental analysis had been completed, effectively blocking the truck and bus provisions of NAFTA. FMCSA noted that it has already conducted an environmental assessment 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 environmental assessment was insufficient and that a more detailed impact study was necessary. FMCSA estimates that the EIS will be completed in 12 to18 months.

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