The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association wants a federal court to rule on the legality of the Bush administration’s crossborder trucking project with Mexico.
Although the pilot project was shut down when Congress eliminated its funding last month, OOIDA fears some of its elements could resurface in a new crossborder trucking program being crafted by the Obama administration.
The association argues that the former Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters unlawfully granted Mexico-based carriers exceptions to following U.S. safety regulations.
“We want to make sure that the exceptions granted by the Bush administration are ruled as illegal and considered invalid so they do not get used again in future programs allowing Mexican trucks to operate throughout the United States,” said Jim Johnston, president of OOIDA.
The association represents more than 160,000 members, mostly truck drivers who own and operate their own vehicles. Along with the Teamsters union and Sierra Club, OOIDA sued the Department of Transportation to overturn the crossborder program.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco asked OOIDA and the other litigants what effect Congress’s decision to pull funding for the pilot program would have on their lawsuit. Although some of the other parties said no decision is now required, OOIDA disagreed, saying a decision could help set future standards for safety and security.
“Those exceptions should never have been made and Mexico should be expected to raise its standards before its trucks are allowed full access to all our highways,” Johnston said.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has said the Obama administration will submit a new crossborder trucking program to Congress for approval this month.
The elimination of the previous program, which only attracted a handful of participants, led Mexico to slap $2.4 billion worth of tariff hikes on U.S. goods.