Bipartisan effort to terminate Mexican cross-border trucking program

Responding to mounting criticism from Americans and the U.S. trucking industry two Congressmen will work together in a bi-partisan manner to terminate President Obama’s stamp of approval that allows Mexican trucks to operate in the United States.

A letter addressed to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, from Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) as well as 42 bipartisan lawmakers urged the Secretary to immediately terminate the cross-border trucking program. The plan was established more than 10 years ago under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that will open U.S. roadways to Mexican truck carriers.

Hunter and Lipinski highlighted safety, security and cost concerns with the program, as reasons to leave the current system limiting Mexican carriers to a defined commercial zone in place.

“The cross-border trucking program clearly puts foreign interests above our own,” said Congressman Hunter. “It’s bad for the American economy. It’s bad for American truckers and the entire commercial trucking industry. And it’s bad for border security. Simply put, the cross-border trucking program is a straight handout to Mexico at the expense of American jobs, taxpayer dollars and security.”

Hunter continued to point out that Mexican trucks are the big winners. “They will soon have unrestricted access to U.S. roadways, leaving their American counterparts at a serious disadvantage. Adding insult to injury, American taxpayers will be expected to buy the required Electronic On-Board Recorders for Mexican trucks, while American truckers will need to purchase the same equipment themselves. There is nothing good about this agreement for the U.S., which is why it needs to be terminated immediately.”

Congressman Lipinski added, “Past inspection failures and gaps in security at the border show that opening our roads to Mexican truck traffic could result in the entry of unsafe vehicles and drivers that pose a threat to the safety of the public. Furthermore, inviting trucks from Mexico to freely transport goods throughout the U.S. provides drug traffickers with another potential avenue to exploit at a time when crime and violence in Mexico are on the rise. The fact that the agreement would also require taxpayers to subsidize required equipment for Mexican truckers that American truck operators would have to pay for themselves is yet another reason that it should be rejected.”
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Another problem associated with the Mexican trucks is the pesky environmentalists who want those trucks to operate within U.S. standards. Lucky for the Mexican truckers, the U.S. taxpayer will pick up the tab to upgrade foreign-owned trucks ensuring their emissions meet environmental standards.

According to air-quality regulators, state or federal agencies cannot force trucks purchased and manufactured in Mexico to operate within the much-higher air-quality standards inside the U.S.

So clearly another problem with NAFTA presented itself. However, the folks at the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) decided to implement a new program.

They decided to approach Mexican truck drivers with a compromise, the U.S. taxpayer will pay the approximately $1,600 to install a new catalytic converter that will reduce the harmful diesel emissions by 30 percent and the Mexican truck drivers can drive in the U.S. knowing they are not unnecessarily polluting the environment.

“It’s about establishing this relationship on environmental issues,” says ADEQ Director Henry Darwin. “It’s especially important on air quality because you can’t stop the air from moving across the border.”

Darwin says the best solution is to use the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) money to fix the Mexican big rigs.

However, independent U.S. truckers are not entitled to the same deal.

“If I don’t pass my smog test I have to pay to fix my truck in order to get it registered,” says Tom Matthews of San Diego. “Not only are these rigs getting taxpayer money to upgrade their trucks, but they are competing with me for work. That’s just plain wrong.”

While Mexico does very little to protect the environment, it remains to be seen if retro fitting their fifth-wheeler trucks will change anything in the grand scheme of things. For example Mexico still burns its trash and the majority of the cars on the road are big-time polluters.

But Darwin contends, “That it’s really the first step.”

Matthews just wishes he could get the same deal.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego

© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

About thekdreport

Investigative journalist

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