A federal judge dealt a blow on Friday to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s efforts to improve air quality in the city, blocking a rule that all new taxis must meet stringent fuel efficiency standards.
The rule, which was scheduled to take effect on Saturday, would have made it mandatory for most cabs to be hybrid gas-and-electric vehicles by 2012. In response to the judge’s order, the city signaled that it would seek to achieve similar results by other means, perhaps by creating a system of incentives that would effectively push most cab owners to buy hybrid vehicles instead of the less fuel-efficient Ford Crown Victoria model that is the workhorse of today’s taxi fleet.
Fleet owners and other industry members had filed a lawsuit against the rule, which is a major component of the mayor’s effort to make city policies more environmentally responsible.
The judge, Paul A. Crotty, of Federal District Court in Manhattan, issued an injunction 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, under existing laws, to set fuel efficiency standards.
In a written statement, Mr. Bloomberg said, “We are very disappointed in the decision.”
The statement said that the city was considering an appeal of the judge’s order. “The decision is not a ruling against hybrid cabs,” the statement continued, “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.”
Let's hope a new Administration takes urgent action so that no longer are "New York City, and all other cities . . . prevented from choosing to create cleaner air and a healthier place to live".
Addendum: Shame also on the NYT, by the way, for burying this far from the headlines (at least in the online edition). NYC is one of the biggest cities in the world, so this situation adversely impacts on the global scale the fight against climate change. It is not a minor news item of local interest only.