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New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has fought long and hard to uphold a local law requiring all city cab companies to replace their gas-guzzling Ford Crown Victoria sedans with more efficient livery vehicles. A noble goal, no doubt, but the Supreme Court is having none of it.

The New York Post reports that the highest court in the land refused to hear the case after four years of battles in the lower courts, giving the victory to the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade. The court ruled that federal agencies have the sole right to regulate emissions and efficiency, not the mayor of one town – even if it is the City That Never Sleeps.

When the Supreme Court swings its gavel, there usually isn't another shot, but that likely won't stop Mayor Bloomberg from lobbying Congress to change the rules. The mayor said that local governments are the ones dealing with climate change and energy policy, adding "the federal government seems unable to address those issues."

While the city of New York appears to have lost the efficiency war, the Big Apple can still feel good about the fact that some 4,400 of the 13,237 cabs on its streets are hybrids. And if gas prices continue to jump, we're thinking many of the other 8,000 cabs will follow suit.

[Source: New York Post | Image: Chris Hondros/Getty]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 32 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      Hard to understand why the Taxi industry is fighting this.
      Probably cost.
      - They don't want new vehicles?
      - They want cheap old beat-up Police cruisers? These are the type of vehicles that would be High Polluters in the City, keeping it awash in Blue Smoke. The kind pedestrians hate to breath, lowering NYC's tourist business, because who want's to breath that kind of polluted air?

      Because, after all Hybrids, with their Excellent City Mileage should quickly pay for themselves, and being New Vehicles have a much higher Safety Factor.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I think it has to do again with the same upfront cost vs operating cost issue. Switching to hybrids requires a lot of upfront costs, which many may not have. However, for operating costs, they can pay for it while providing the service.

        Another issue is who buys the new taxis vs. who pays for gas for them. If the taxis are not owned by the same people who pay for gas, then there is little to no incentive for the owners to buy new taxis and to help save money for the people who pay for gas.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Blue smoke all over? I actually live in NY - the cabs don't get great mileage but I never smell the exhaust and rarely if ever see blue smoke out of the exhaust. If anything, it's the 10-wheelers that come in and other construction equipment that you see that have that problem once in a while. Just saying.
        • 3 Years Ago
        who pays for the gas, the drivers, or the company?
        • 3 Years Ago
        Sometimes, legal arguments are made on principle.

        The principle at issue here is whether the City had the right to regulate the mpg or emissions of privately owned vehicles - and specifically a single targeted group, a group that demonstrated they would suffer financial harm. Do note the City wasn't regulating their *own* vehicle fleet, which they have every right to do.

        It's a pretty simple case - NO. The right to regulate the mpg and emissions of all vehicles is specifically granted to the Federal Government, under the CAA and the ECPA.

        The EPCA states, in relevant part: "[A] State or a political subdivision of a State may not adopt or enforce a law or regulation related to fuel economy standards or average fuel economy standards for automobiles covered by an average fuel economy standard under this chapter." 49 U.S.C. § 32919(a).

        The CAA states, in relevant part: "No State or any political subdivision thereof shall adopt or attempt to enforce any standard relating to the control of emissions from new motor vehicles or new motor vehicle engines subject to this part." 42 U.S.C. § 7543(a).


        The courts were right to issue the injunction, although I know it sounds strange, since I agree with Bloomberg's and NYC's goals of reducing pollution. I feel confident that market forces will bring about a cleaning up of the taxi fleet, as hybrids become more obviously financially beneficial. Don't forget, NYC requires taxis be retired after a certain term of service, so it's not like the fleet won't undergo a continual refreshening.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @jwinter228
        I agree that construction equipment pollution is horrible, and because they do not operate on a "roadway" there are no emissions regulations.

        It still makes sense to try and reduce taxi emissions though because they do not move freight and probably produce the most pollution per passenger mile of any transportation system in new york city.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why doesn't he just create a public taxi service since the private sector was unwilling to work with him?
        • 3 Years Ago
        capitalism
        • 3 Years Ago
        A public taxi service would be a terrible idea. Not only would it have to compete with the yellow cabs but all of the gypsy cabs and private car services.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why is Bloomberg stopping with taxis, which are, after all, hardly the
      biggest emission sources. And if he wants EVs, isn't he really simply transferring the emissions to the areas around the power plants? He
      could be facing a lawsuit by those near the power plants.
      As for public taxis - that would end up unionizing the drivers and mechanics
      and infrastructure, which would, of course, put taxi rates out of the question for many, but of course that inconveniencing of his citizens would lead to fewer emissions. It would also be a monopoly - unconstitutional - another chance for Bloomy to get slapped down by the courts.
      See what happens when an executive believes that he is king? They went out of style in this country in 1776.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Yes, he is transferring the emissions.
        Hybrids still lower emissions by 25-50%.
        Electric by 90%
        It's also less expensive to control the emissions at the central power source.
        Of course, Solar and Wind have no operating emissions.
      • 3 Years Ago
      The mayor is just that, the mayor, not the emperor. he can't "just suspend taxi licenses" because he did not get his way. Many taxis are privately owned he would end up in court and lose. There are some things he just does not have the ability to control.
      • 3 Years Ago
      States rights! States rights! States rights!

      Oh . . . it is some environmental thing? Well screw them then!
        • 3 Years Ago
        Yeah right? It's freedom this freedom that until someone proposes something beneficial, THEN it turns to whining about the constitution.

        What a heap of two faced mo---ns.
      • 3 Years Ago
      "The court ruled that federal agencies have the sole right to regulate emissions and efficiency"

      does this extend to California as well?
        • 3 Years Ago
        Yes. However, the Feds have given Cali a special exemption. So Cali can do it only because the Feds let them.

        The Feds are nice enough to give other states the same option - follow the national standard, or follow Cali's. New York is one of the CARB states that *already* has Cali standards in place.

        NYC would be even more restrictive than the current standard, so that's why it's not allowed. If NYC got a special exemption from the Feds, sure, they could do it. But NYC didn't ask the Feds first, hence the injunction. The Feds have to say the NYC standards are legal, and nobody in NYC bothered to get their permission.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I just wish Bloomberg had required that taxis be EVs, or flex fuel vehicles that fuel up exclusively on alcohol fuel, or in some other way moved via some other way. Hybrids make little difference because fuel demand rises too fast for efficiency improvements to catch up to, and even if it did and we reduced consumption, OPEC could just cut production to match, spike the price, and make just as much money from us as before.

      And by the way leftists annoyed by this ruling should also be annoyed at the courts overruling Proposition 187 in CA and SB 1080 in AZ on the spurious grounds that only the feds control immigration. Neither state attempted to alter US policy on who can come into the country.
      • 3 Years Ago
      The perversion of "the market rules everything" strikes again :(
      • 3 Years Ago
      He wouldn't be striking down if every taxi in New York was like this incredible man...

      http://newyorkknowsbest.wordpress.com/2011/04/02/if-you-need-me-call-me-no-matter-where-you-are-no-matter-how-far/
      • 3 Years Ago
      The SCOTUS did not "strike down" the plan. The Supreme refused to grant certiorari to hear the case. They only hear so many cases each year and apparently there wasn't enough of a legal question to be resolved for them to hear the case. So, whoever ruled initially struck down the plan, not the SCOTUS.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I don't understand this. The mayor of a city can regulate the taxis in his city a hundred different ways, including license fees, fares, partitions, and pick-up and drop-off policies, but he can't regulate their emissions? Can't he just suspend all taxi licenses ("for review of fair trade practices" or whatever excuse) until he gets what he wants?
      • 3 Years Ago
      Taxis, buses and delivery vehicles cause much of the air pollution in densely populated cities.
      Were the health damage in those areas to be properly costed it seems clear that right now battery and fuel cell cars would be the most truly economic solution for those functions.
      These figures of around 3 million deaths a year world-wide from air pollution shocked me:
      http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/air-pollution-and-fossil-fuel-damage-in.html

      I ran the figures for London proportionately to UK figures of 50,000 excess deaths from air pollution a year, with the loss of life in major cities from these deaths being about two man years per death on average, and it seems that there is nothing economic about allowing internal combustion engines in cities, at any rate for high mileage vehicles such as those specified above.
      Of course oil burning vessels and coal burn account for a large part of the air pollution, but so do vehicles in densely populated areas.
        • 3 Years Ago
        most cities are upgrading to hybrids, CNG, or other alternate forms of fueling.
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