Feds pay to upgrade Mexican trucks – US trucks not so lucky

A story broke yesterday concerning the retrofit of more than 100 trucks from Mexico that do not meet United States environmental standards. Our federal government is paying to upgrade these trucks, yet when the state of California and the EPA set new rules for US-owned trucks, they fine companies who do not comply.

This post is not about the environment, it concerns how US trucking companies are treated by the federal and state government as compared to Mexican-owned rigs. From AzCentral.com.

For air-quality regulators, the border creates a legal barrier. State and federal agencies can’t force vehicles manufactured and bought in Mexico to comply with U.S. emissions rules, even though the trucks cross into this country.

So the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality tried a different approach, offering to pay Mexican truck owners to replace old mufflers with new catalytic converters that will reduce harmful diesel emissions by up to 30 percent. The project in effect circumvents the more lax Mexican rules about exhaust systems.

Using federal grant money, the state agency installed the new converters on 55 trucks last year and will refit about the same number by the middle of this year.

The cost per truck is about $1,600 and US taxpayers are footing the bill. The logical move would be to require trucks that cross the border be up to US standards to meet safety and environmental rules, but that might just be considered racist, so it’s off the table. I just made that up, but you know racism would be one of the charges thrown out there if we required Mexico’s trucks to meet our standards.

So do American truck owners and companies get to drive into a convenient truck stop and get their free upgrades to meet state and federal guidelines? Of course not.

The State of California implemented strict regulations on refrigerated trucks back in 2004. Last April, a federal court agreed California could enforce these rules even though the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had less-stringent standards. The upgrades to the transportation refrigerated units (TRUs) mandated by California and approved by the EPA will cost businesses $2,000 to $5,000 per unit.

At issue in the case was EPA’s grant of a waiver to the California Air Resources Board on Jan. 16, 2009, allowing the agency to enforce the [transportation refrigerated units] TRU regulations, which were adopted in February 2004. The regulations mandate reductions in engine emissions by requiring that TRUs equipped with diesel engines that are seven years or older be replaced or retrofit with new engines or verified diesel emissions control strategies, or VDECS. Or operators can use alternative technologies such as electric-standby/hybrid-electric or hybrid-cryogenic systems.

Once California got their waiver to implement the stricter regulations in December 2009, they started enforcement efforts. In January and February of 2010 the California Air Resources Board…

issued citations totaling more than $180,000 in penalties for failing to register equipment and failing to meet emissions requirements…

What’s wrong with this picture?

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Steve McGough

Steve's a part-time conservative blogger. Steve grew up in Connecticut and has lived in Washington, D.C. and the Bahamas. He resides in Connecticut, where he’s comfortable six months of the year.


  1. Anne-EH on April 12, 2011 at 4:54 am

    IRONIC, this is the SAME MEXICO, in which it is in a undeclared war against the violent drug cartels, and in whom we share a very ungarded southern border at a time when the USA feds MUST DO what it seems either to not WANT TO DO or CANNOT DO, ENFORCE its borders.

  2. Dimsdale on April 12, 2011 at 5:14 am

    When are we just going to annex Mexico?  We support them in every way possible, short of changing their diapers.


    If they want to bring trucks, citizens etc. into this country, they should do so by OUR rules and at THEIR cost.

  3. Plainvillian on April 12, 2011 at 5:52 am

    In answer to your question:  What, in any way, is right with this picture?

  4. Anne-EH on April 12, 2011 at 6:44 am

    Here is the URL of the Free Republic version of this RVO article:


    Enjoy! :)=^..^=

  5. TomL on April 12, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    The rediculous part is that the trucks are only crossing the border to the impound yard at customs to bring trailers across from Mexico to the US  or vice versa to be picked up by US trucks for distribution. Trailers go into Mexico with parts to be assembled and then brought back with the assembled products. Companies have warehouses within spitting distance of each other on both sides of the borders.

  6. JollyRoger on April 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    So I've paid close to $2,000/ year in excise tax on vehicles while Mexican trucks get free emissions upgrades which probably include mud flaps and wiper blades!  Why does Obama bow to foreign leaders when he could simply offer sexual favors?

  7. Murphy on April 13, 2011 at 7:14 am

    1.) At least there will be less toxic fumes in the back of the Coyotes' trucks for those poor immigrants.

    2.)Perhaps the trucking companies in the southwest can just hire more Mexicans to bring their trucks in for repairs

  8. joe_m on April 13, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Arizona Department of Environmental Quality

    So the state of AZ can help enforce federal air quality standards but gets taken to court if they try to enforce federal immigration laws?

    Ya gotta laugh or you will die crying.

  9. Tim-in-Alabama on April 13, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Low Rider don't use no gas nowLow Rider don't drive too fastTake a little tripTake a little tripTake a little trip and seeTake a little tripTake a little tripTake a little trip with me


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