OOIDA & Teamster demand Obama to “protect the trees”

Say it ain’t so people! James P. Hoffa and his Teamsters, and Todd Spencer with his minority of American truckers are aligning themselves with the left wing enviro-wackos in a last desperate attempt to stop fewer than 100 late model Mexican trucks from entering the country?

Politics and nativist protectionism make strange bedfellows sometimes as the latest press release from the Teamsters points out.

In comments submitted to the Department of Transportation (DOT), the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Sierra Club raised frivolous and baseless concerns with what they claim is the failure of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to adequately assess the environmental impacts associated with the upcoming U.S.-Mexico cross-border trucking pilot program.

Hoffa erroneously claims:

“With this assessment, the FMSCA is recklessly ignoring the true environmental impact Mexican trucks will have if permitted to travel without restrictions throughout our country. We contend that the FMSCA has violated the National Environmental Policy Act by not addressing the full, cumulative effects on our environment prior to starting the cross-border pilot program.”

The “assessment” he is referring to is the  announcement last month of the availability of a Draft Environmental Assessment (DEA) that evaluates the
potential environmental impacts resulting from the implementation of its United States-Mexico cross-border long- haul trucking pilot program in the FEDERAL REGISTER.

But Hoffa and his Teamsters as well as Spencer and OOIDA are blowing smoke up the asses of the American public and US truckers. They’re bringing up an issue that was resolved years ago by the Supreme Court of the United States.

It started back in 2002 when Public Citizen sued the FMCSA claiming an environmental impact study was required before any effort could be made to open the southern border to Mexican trucks as required under our NAFTA obligations.

At that time, FMCSA prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA), but they did not prepare and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as PUBLIC CITIZEN claimed was required by the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).

The EA focused mainly on the environmental impact from doing more inspections, not on the impact from more trucks driving the roads.

Public Citizen sued to stop the possibility of cross border trucking until an EIS was prepared.Public Citizen argued that the increased number of trucks on US roads was liable to have a significant environmental impact, and therefore an EIS was required. There claim was that more than 30,000 older polluting trucks burning high sulphur diesel would have an impact on our environment.

The trial court found in favor of the defendent, FMCSA. The Trial Court found that although the FMCSA pilot program would result in more trucks, FMCSA did not have control over those trucks and therefore did not have to account for them in an EIS. Public Citizen went shopping and appealed to the liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

The Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, reversing the trial court. The Appellate Court found that the EA was deficient because it failed to give adequate consideration to the overall environmental impact from the Mexican trucks. Of course, FMCSA appealed, all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

The case was argued before the Supreme Court on April 21, 2004 with a unanimous verdict being rendered on June 7, 2004.

The US Supreme Court held that the FMCSA had no control of the trucks once the regulations governing the pilot program were passed, and would therefore be unable to act on the findings of an EIS even if it did conduct one.
FMCSA has no statutory authority to impose or enforce emissions controls or to establish environmental requirements unrelated to motor carrier safety.

The Court also found that the passage of the regulations was not sufficiently responsible for the increased pollution caused by the trucks to warrant an EIS.

Justice Clarence Thomas, the Courts most conservative Judge wrote the opinion which you can read here.

Now in their desperation to keep a handful of late model, closely monitored Mexican trucks from entering this country, they ally themselves with the tree huggers. They ignore the more than 30,000 Mexican rigs that access the United States daily, some with authority to run anywhere in the country they desire.

Take OOIDA for instance. They’re always preaching against more government regulations and fighting CARB, the California Air Resources Board, which has some of the most stringent environmental rules in the country (and rules that Mexican trucks follow daily). A good example of that is OOIDA’s statement in opposition to new fuel economy rules for big trucks.

OOIDA says;

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) called the administration’s announcement today for greenhouse gas emissions standards for heavy-duty trucks a flawed, one-size-fits-all rule. The new rule ignores input from small-business trucking, overlooks less expensive options to achieve EPA goals of reduced emissions, and will ultimately increase new truck costs.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a first-ever rulemaking for new large tractor-trailer trucks that requires trucks to achieve up to approximately 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by model year 2018.

“By totally ignoring the impact on small-business trucking, the EPA has demonstrated yet another example of our wretchedly broken regulatory process,” said Joe Rajkovacz, Director of Regulatory Affairs for OOIDA.  “Congress should take action when they return in September to rein in the bureaucracy and push forward regulatory reform legislation that has already been introduced.”

Notice the hypocrisy and desperation? They oppose the new mileage standards and are demanding the Administration to stand down from all the excessive regulations they’re putting on us, a position I totally agree with, yet in the next breath, they demand more regulations against a few Mexican trucks.

In an article published on August 12, 2011 titled FMCSA’s environmental assessment of cross-border program falls short, OOIDA claims,

Currently, Mexican emission standards for diesel-powered truck engines are only aligned with U.S. EPA emissions standards for six criteria pollutants through the 2003 model year. This means that newer engines for Mexican trucks need not comply with the more stringent U.S. emissions standards that came into play in 2004 through 2010.

The comments point out that since Mexico has not aligned its diesel engine emissions standards to U.S. EPA 2004 standards, the differences can be stark – as much as 20 times the nitrogen oxides and 10 times the particulate matter, based on using diesel with a sulfur content of 500 parts per million.

The ability to add additional fuel tanks makes it possible for trucks from Mexico to fill up with the low-sulfur diesel available in Mexico and never have to fuel up while in the states – polluting at a higher level than corresponding U.S. trucks.

OOIDA’s comments propose two options to FMCSA to ensure a minimal environmental impact the cross-border program may have.

The first, would be to only allow trucks that meet U.S. EPA model year emissions standards for the year in which the engine was manufactured. We don’t have a problem with that and indeed, that is stated in the proposal for the new cross border program. Guess that part went over their heads at OOIDA.

The second is ridiculous and nothing in the section of NAFTA regulating cross border trucking, nor int he arbitration panel ruling requires this.  OOIDA’s idea would force trucks arriving from Mexico either to have ULSD fuel purchased in Mexico on board or to have possibly to one-fourth tank or less of fuel not meeting the U.S. ULSD standard – so they could purchase compliant fuel once crossing the border.

Even if Mexican trucks were using diesel fuel consisting of 5000 ppm of sulfur, the environmental impact of less than 100 trucks would be absolute zero.

This is simply another method by the opponents to throw up more roadblocks to our compliance with our international obligations. Fortunately, they’ll lose this fight too.