November 6, 2008 By Elaine Rundle
Mayor Michael Bloomberg's goal of making New York City greener by requiring all yellow taxis to achieve higher fuel efficiency by 2012 was halted Oct. 31, 2008, by a federal judge.
The plan was to start Nov. 1, 2008, and would have mandated that most new taxis were hybrid vehicles, therefore changing the fleet of Ford Crown Victorias currently zipping through the city.
According to The New York Times, Judge Paul A. Crotty of Federal District Court in Manhattan issued an injunction to stop the city from enforcing the rule because he thought the plaintiffs were likely to succeed in a key argument: The federal government is currently the only entity that can create fuel-efficiency standards.
The complaint was filed by the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade and the Midtown Operating Corp., among others, and also stated that by moving the original deadline of 2012 to 2008, "defendants abandoned decades of established piloting and testing procedure for taxis and replaced them with a mandate for new vehicles that have never been meaningfully tested and have no proven record of safety or reliability of commercial vehicles."
In a statement, Bloomberg said: "We are very disappointed in the decision and we are exploring our appellate options. The decision is not a ruling against hybrids cabs, rather a ruling that archaic Washington regulations are applicable, and therefore, New York City, and all other cities, are prevented from choosing to create cleaner air and a healthier place to live. The sad irony here is the laws being relied on by the plaintiff, the Clean Air Act and the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, were designed to reduce air pollution and reduce our dependence on foreign oil - which is exactly what moving to fuel efficient cabs will do."
The statement said the city will work to update the current laws to aid environmental stewardship and that officials will use every mechanism at their disposal to make the city greener.