New legislation would allow cities to create local regulations mandating energy efficiency and emissions standards for taxi fleets.
Previous efforts by cities, including New York City, to require conversion of taxi fleets to hybrids, for instance, were disallowed based on 1970s-era environmental regulations that said only the federal government had the right to set fuel efficiency standards of any sort.
The new Green Taxis Act of 2009 is being included a larger set of legislation in the Senate. The act was introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who worked with NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg on crafting the legislation, reports the New York Times.
Companion legislation is expected to be introduced in the House by Rep. Jerrold Nadler of Manhattan. Neither bill is expected to pass before year’s end.
Last November, U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty halted New York City’s plan to turn its yellow taxis green by 2012, ruling that regulation of fuel emissions standards fall under federal authority, not the city’s authority.
More recently, in August, courts ruled that a year-old mandate that requires cab owners in Boston, Massachusetts, to buy new hybrid cars by 2015 violated an act of Congress.
San Francisco and Seattle also have encountered the same roadblocks.
Some cities have floated other ideas to favor “green” taxis. For instance, Dallas has considered allowing green cabs to go to the front of the line at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport and Dallas’ Love Field, as has happened at some cities, including San Francisco and Boston.