U.S. Supreme Court to take on NAFTA case

WASHINGTON (Dec. 17, 2003) — A 20-year-old battle over allowing Mexican trucks on U.S. highways will be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The court has announced it will intervene in the conflict by hearing an appeal from the Bush administration, which wants to open the border to Mexican trucks without a court-ordered environmental study. The administration says the study would delay the planned opening that Bush ordered last fall, and thereby hamper commerce.

The plan has been bitterly opposed by U.S. labour, consumer, and environmental organizations, including Public Citizen, and the Teamsters, who won an appeals ruling earlier this year that would force the government to perform the lengthy and costly study. The Bush administration has said it will comply with that order, but also appealed to the Supreme Court in September.

The ruling also needlessly prolongs a trade dispute with Mexico over the requirements of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Solicitor General Theodore Olson wrote. Mexico claims the moratorium has cost it more than $2 billion.

The environmental study will analyze short- and long-term environmental effects of opening U.S. roads to Mexican trucks. The study will not stop Mexican trucks from operating in the long run, but Public Citizen has said it should lessen potentially harmful effects.

Most trucks from Mexico have been transferring their cargo to U.S. trucks in zones a few miles north of the American border since 1982.

— Via Associated Press

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