NEW YORK CITY – A rule requiring New York City taxicabs to get a minimum 25 miles-per-gallon was blocked by a federal judge, who said the mandate runs afoul of federal law.
U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty in Manhattan said a federal law designed to improve motor-vehicle efficiency ``preempts' the city's regulation. He issued a preliminary injunction.
``We are very disappointed in the decision and we are exploring our appellate options,' Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement. ``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 city's Taxi and Limousine Commission, which regulates the industry, essentially ordered the entire 13,000-car fleet to switch to electric hybrids to comply with the miles-per-gallon requirement, Crotty said. By Oct. 1, 2009, taxis must get 30 miles-per-gallon under the rule that was blocked today.
As of November 2007, more than 90 percent of all taxis in New York City were Crown Victoria non-hybrid cars, which don't meet the requirement, Crotty said. Only 700 of the city's cabs were hybrids, he said. The suit was brought by cab owners and drivers.
``The 25/30 rules relate to fuel economy standards and are most likely expressly preempted' by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, Crotty said in a 26-page opinion.
Bloomberg said in his statement that he instructed the Taxi and Limousine Commission to ``develop a program with strong incentives for the use of fuel efficient vehicles and heavy disincentives for use of the inefficient vehicles.'
The mayor also said that he will work with New York's congressional delegation to modify U.S. laws. ``Greening the taxi fleet is a major priority,' he said.
The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.
The case is Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade v. New York, 08-cv-7837, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).