South-Western Legal Studies in Business

No Environment Impact Statement Needed for Mexican Truck Operation in U.S.
Description Supreme Court held that the federal agency that regulates trucks in the U.S. did not have to prepare a full-scale Environmental Impact Statement of the effects of emissions from Mexican trucks that carried goods into the U.S.
Topic Environmental Law
Key Words Clean Air Act, Emissions, NEPA, EIS, NAFTA, Mexican Trucks
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts As part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of 1992, the U.S. agreed to permit Mexican trucks to obtain operating authority within the U.S. by 2000. When the U.S. failed to abide by the terms of NAFTA, Mexico protested. Under the dispute-resolution process, in 2002 an international arbitration panel held the U.S. in breach of NAFTA obligations. The president then agreed to allow Mexican trucks to operate in the U.S. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published safety and operating rules for Mexican trucks. Public Citizen sued, contending that the regulations violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by not providing a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) about air emissions created by Mexican trucks. The appeals court agreed and held that FMCSA must prepare a full-scale EIS to address Mexican truck emissions. FSMCA appealed.

Reversed. A unanimous Court held that the FMCSA did not violate the Clean Air Act (CAA) by not considering all emissions that could be created by the presence of Mexican trucks within the U.S. The FMCSA lacks jurisdiction to prevent cross-border operations of Mexican trucks. The agency is required to consider the environmental impacts of its own regulations, not the environmental impact of all trucking operations in the U.S. NEPA and the CAA do not require the FMCSA to evaluate environmental effects of such truck operations. NEPA has a "rule of reason" that allows agencies to evaluate the usefulness of an EIS.

Citation Department of Transportation v. Public Citizen, 124 S.Ct. 2204 (2004)

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