N. America Trade Pact blocked

A federal judge on Wednesday blocked the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada until the Clinton administration analyzes in detail its likely effects on the environment.

The administration said it would appeal.

U.S. District Judge Charles R. Richey said the White House should not send the accord to Congress until it first prepares a formal statement on its environmental impact — a process that could take months or even years.

“We believe that court’s decision is not in the public interest,” said U.S. trade representative Mickey Kantor.

He said the administration plans to go ahead and send the accord to Congress. Meanwhile, he said, the Justice Dept. would appeal the ruling as soon as possible.

Clinton has promised to negotiate side agreements with Mexico and Canada dealing with environmental and workers’ rights issues before sending the agreement to Congress.

The entertainment industry has generally supported the measure, albeit with reservations because of Canadian provisions that concern limitations on the amount of U.S. TV programs that Canadian stations can import.

There are no restrictions on U.S. programming sent to Mexico.

Public Citizen, the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth filed the suit last October.

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