The Supreme Court yesterday refused to hear an appeal by the city on its push to have taxi owners abandon gas-guzzling cabs for eco-friendly hybrids.
Lower court judges had ruled that only the federal government, not local ones, have the power to set vehicle fuel economy standards.
“This Supreme Court decision makes it urgent for Congress to correct language drafted 35 years ago that today has the unintended effect of hampering our efforts to clean our air,” Taxi and Limousine Commission Chairman David Yassky said in a statement.
He noted that even without mandates, more than 4,300, or almost a third of the city’s taxis, are hybrids.
The city’s plan, first unveiled in 2007, called for taxis to get 25 miles per gallon by 2008 and 30 miles per gallon by 2009.
The Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, which represents a quarter of the yellow taxi industry, sued the city, arguing companies would be forced to use cars that aren’t durable enough for around-the-clock driving.
The group’s spokesman Michael Woloz called yesterday’s decision “bittersweet” and said in a statement that the taxi industry wants to work with the city on creating a greener fleet.