New York City's Hybrid Taxi Mandate Faces Legal Setback


Bloomberg Makes News--Again
New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who earlier this year deemed the threat of global warming as serious as terrorism, has been making lots of headlines lately on both the environmental and political fronts. Aside from exploring a third mayoral term, Bloomberg has also been pushing for congestion pricing in the city, hybrid taxis, and renewable energy production on bridges and skyscrapers, to name a few. Unfortunately, his congestion pricing plan fell through and in October his hybrid taxi plan got challenged on safety concerns.

To make matters worse, as a result of that legal challenge "a federal judge [has] blocked the city Friday from requiring all new taxicabs to be fuel-efficient hybrids, hampering Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ambitious goal to make all yellow cabs green by 2012." The lawsuit was brought by "the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, a trade association claiming to represent a quarter of the city's cabs." They opposed the regulation because "hybrids aren't safe enough for use as cabs, which take a beating on city streets." But as Treehugger Matthew McDermott recently pointed out, safety is certainly an issue, but it is not reason to continue using fuel inefficient vehicles.

However, it seems that from a legal standpoint the issue at hand was whether or not "the regulations were pre-empted by federal law." The new regulations would have "gone into effect Nov. 1 and required any new cab coming into service to achieve a fuel efficiency standard of 25 miles per gallon. The following year, that would have increased to 30 miles per gallon."

City Still Wants More Hybrid Taxis on the Road
Now, however, it looks like the city's options are either to appeal the case or to find other ways of forcing or incentivizing taxi companies to switch to more efficient vehicles. That shouldn't too hard if, for example, a cap-and-trade system is implemented in the United States, as that would effectively raise the price of greenhouse gas emitting fuels. But in the meantime, the judge "temporarily blocked enforcement because he said the plaintiffs would suffer irreparable financial harm if they were forced to comply with the rules by the deadline."

How many times do we have to hear the "we can't do it because it's too expensive routine?" Detroit said that for years until Honda and Toyota starting eating away at their market share, after all. Everything is too expensive, unless there are powerful people pushing hard for the money to be spent (think of the war in Iraq and the bailout of financial system, for instance.)

Via: Yahoo News
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