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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

New York City’s Green Taxi Program Red Lighted By Federal Judge

A federal judge has stopped Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to clean up the air in New York City by using fuel-efficient hybrid taxis.

The judge, Paul A. Crotty, of Federal District Court in Manhattan, issued a 26-page ruling (PDF) to stop the city from enforcing the rule because, he said in a written order, the plaintiffs were likely to succeed in a key legal argument — that only the federal government has the right to set fuel efficiency standards under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, which bars state and local governments from setting their own, competing standards.

The hybrid-cab requirement was the centerpiece of Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC 2030 package of environmental initiatives. It required all new taxicabs to be fuel-efficient hybrids and that all yellow cabs would be green by 2012. The initiative which would have started on Nov 1, specifically required a new cab coming in to service to get 25 miles per gallon, and the following year the standard would be 30 miles per gallon.

The standard yellow cab gets about 14 miles per gallon. Considering there are about 13,000 cabs in NYC and only about one-thousand of them are hybrids, this could’ve had a large positive effect on the city’s pollution.

Bloomberg said he was “very disappointed” and blasted the ruling for relying on “archaic Washington regulations” that keep New York and other cities “from choosing to create cleaner air.” He said the city was exploring options to appeal.

The Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade — they represent about a quarter of they city’s taxis – sued to block the enforcement. They argued only federal government could impose such restrictions, not the city’s Taxicab & Limousine Commission. They also noted that Hybrid’s aren’t safe enough to use as cabs.

“Millions of people who ride taxicabs and the thousands of drivers, owners and other participants in the New York City taxi industry can breathe a sigh of relief today,” Trade association president Ron Sherman said in approval of the decision..

“Greening the taxi fleet is a major priority, and we are going to use every mechanism at our disposal to make New York a cleaner, healthier city,” Bloomberg vowed.

Hopefully Yahoo doesn’t mind donating a few more of those green cabs…

Image source: Yodel Anecdotal on Flickr