NAFTA ENVIRONMENTAL ANALYSIS
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), is responsible for ensuring the safe operation of commercial motor vehicles within the United States. This includes issuing regulations to permit Mexico-domiciled trucks and buses to operate in the United States pursuant to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) under conditions ensuring public safety. FMCSA is seeking public input on the potential range of environmental impacts and alternatives FMCSA should consider in its environmental analysis of the regulations, which will include a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and a General Conformity Evaluation pursuant to the Clean Air Act of 1990.
To carry out its responsibilities under the NAFTA, FMCSA proposed regulations in May 2001 prescribing application procedures and procedures for monitoring the safety of Mexico-domiciled carriers seeking permission to operate within the United States. FMSCA proposed these rules pursuant to the NAFTA and in anticipation of the President lifting a moratorium previously imposed by Congress on the operating authority of Mexico-domiciled carriers. The proposed rules would have permitted Mexico-domiciled carriers to operate throughout the entire Unites States rather than only in the narrow border commercial zone to which they are currently confined, fulfilling the United States' international obligations under the NAFTA.
Prior to finalizing the rules, FMCSA conducted an assessment of their environmental impacts and determined they would have no significant impact on the environment. FMCSA issued interim final rules on March 7, 2002 (published in the Federal Register at 67 FR 12702 and 67 FR 12758). However, the implementation of the rules was put on hold as a result of a court decision finding FMCSA's assessment of the environmental impacts was insufficient. See Public Citizen v. Department of Transportation, 316 F. 3d 1002 (9th Cir. 2003).
FMCSA is now in the process of preparing a more extensive environmental analysis of the potential impacts of the rules. This will include a detailed analysis of the environmental impacts of the rules and other alternatives, called a "Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement" or PEIS, to be prepared pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. It also will include an analysis of specific air quality impacts, called a "General Conformity Evaluation" or GCE, to be prepared pursuant to the Clean Air Act of 1990. A notice of intent to prepare a PEIS and a GCE has been published in the Federal Register.
FMSCA invites you to submit comments on the environmental issues and topics that you believe are appropriate for inclusion in these analyses. Please direct any comments or questions to FMSCA by November 7, 2003, via one of the following:
This Web page (under construction will be available soon)
FAX at (800) 260-9702 or
Mail to NAFTA EIS, P.O. Box 4050, Merrifield, VA 22116-4050.
In addition to seeking public comment, FMCSA plans to hold a series of meetings at several locations throughout the United States. Members of the public and other interested parties will be invited to attend the meetings and will be given an opportunity to submit comments regarding the scope of the PEIS and GCE. The time and location of these meetings will be published at a later date and will be available on this Web site as well as from the toll-free project hotline number, (800) 288-5634.
Once comments are received, FMCSA will prepare and issue a Draft PEIS, addressing the environmental issues and concerns identified through the scoping process. The Draft PEIS also will incorporate the results of the GCE. The public will be provided with an opportunity to review and comment on the Draft PEIS. At the conclusion of the comment period, FMCSA will prepare a Final PEIS after considering and responding to comments submitted regarding the Draft PEIS. Finally, FMCSA will issue a Record of Decision, taking into consideration the entire environmental record, including the Draft PEIS, the Final PEIS, and the comments from the public and interested organizations and public agencies.
For further information, or if you have any questions regarding this process, please call FMCSA's toll-free number listed above. Inquiries may be made in Spanish or English. We will also be periodically updating and expanding this Web site, so we invite you to check back again at a later time.