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Judge denies attempt to mandate hybrid taxis

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Judge denies attempt to mandate hybrid taxis

By Mark Kleis

The city of New York, prompted by an attempt by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has been attempting to heavily regulate the fuel economy and emissions vehicles used for taxi service since 2007, but the latest step in the legal battle has the city going back to the drawing board.

In December 2007 New York city passed a ruling that sought to mandate a 25 mpg city rating by October 2008 – not just in New York, but nationwide. The ruling all called for all new taxi cabs put into service following October 2009 would have to obtain at least 30 miles per gallon during the city driving cycle, according to The Detroit News. The figure would more than double the city average of the most widely used taxi cab, the Ford Crown Victoria – and require a figure that no vehicle short of a hybrid or pure electric could obtain.

The state of New York proposed an annual fuel savings of $60 million in that state alone from the changes. But despite the state’s efforts, a judge ruled last year that, “the city’s rules were preempted under both the federal Energy Policy and Conservation Act and the federal Clean Air Act.”

New York City then repealed the ruling, and today the courts ruled yet again in favor of the taxi companies – disallowing the city from mandating the usage of hybrid vehicles, or even to attempt to utilize an incentive-based system to push higher fuel-economy.

Congress now to get involved

Following news of yet another defeat in court, a New York senator, as well as several mayors from major cities, have now joined together to urge congress to mandate a new green taxi requirement.

“In light of the appeals court ruling, Congress must act on my bill allowing New York City and all cities to create hybrid taxi fleets,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., according to The Detroit News.

This new push by Congress will aim to reignite the Green Taxi Act, a bill that has been dormant since its introduction in late 2009 by Senator John Kerry. the Green Taxi Act would allow cities and municipalities to set their own fuel-economy and emissions standards for privately owned taxi cabs.

Currently just over 28 percent of New York City’s taxi fleet runs on alternative fuel or utilizes a hybrid drivetrain, the majority of which are Ford Escape Hybrid SUVs.



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