U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Jerrold Nadler on Monday announced the 2011 Green Taxis Act, weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the city's appeal of lower-court decisions that blocked Bloomberg's attempt to regulate gas emissions in cabs.
The modified federal law would give local governments the power to enforce their own fuel efficiency standards on taxis.
If passed, it would pave the way for Mayor Bloomberg to move ahead on a city mandate that calls for all of New York’s taxis to be fuel efficient by 2030. Currently, a third of the city's fleet -- 4,500 out of 13,237 taxis -- are fuel efficient.
Gillibrand and Nadler introduced the 2009 Green Taxis Act as part of Sen. John Kerry’s climate change bill.
Several other large U.S. cities, including Boston, San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles, have attempted to use the law to regulate carbon emissions on their own taxi fleets, but these efforts were repeatedly blocked by the Supreme Court, which cited federal government jurisdiction over emission standards.
“Congress must act to provide New York, and cities all across the country, with the common sense tools they need to improve the quality of air and quality of life for their citizens,” said Gillibrand. “By creating fuel efficient taxi fleets, we can improve air quality and lower carbon emissions while reducing our consumption of foreign oil. It’s time to update antiquated federal rules and allow cities to take a major step forward towards a cleaner and safer nation.”
The act could face opposition from taxi cab owners, who say the costs associated with replacing their cars -- including higher insurance premiums -- are not worth it.
Mayor Bloomberg has said that his city plan would provide financial incentives to those drivers who used fuel efficient cars.
“Cities like New York have taken the lead in sustainability issues, pushing for standards that go far beyond what the Federal government has set,” said Bloomberg. “When we hit legal impasses in our effort to create a cleaner taxi fleet, we vowed we would not to let any setbacks derail us – and we haven’t."