taxisYou know I hate to editorialize, but this judicial decision is just awful:

A federal judge dealt a blow on Friday to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s efforts to improve air quality in the city, blocking a rule that all new taxis must meet stringent fuel efficiency standards. The rule, which was scheduled to take effect on Saturday, would have made it mandatory for most cabs to be hybrid gas-and-electric vehicles by 2012.

Unfortunately, this is a story for the Northwest too. The city of Seattle will almost certainly run afoul of the same ruling because the city has been leading the charge to green its taxi fleet by requiring higher efficiency standards from the cabs it licenses. (I’ve written about it here and here.) In fact, efficient taxis are a key part of the city’s plan to meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Why can’t cities decide what how much their local taxi fleets pollute? Here’s why:

The judge, Paul A. Crotty, of Federal District Court in Manhattan, issued an injunction to stop the city from enforcing the rule because, he said in a written order, the plaintiffs were likely to succeed in a key legal argument —that only the federal government has the right, under existing laws, to set fuel efficiency standards.

Not only are the feds the least common denominator—they get to be the only common denominator. This is precisely the sort of thing that makes it exceedingly difficult for local governments to showcase the climate leadership that’s lately been bubbling up from all over.

Now if only there were some chance we’d get new federal leadership soon…

Photo credit: Tannen Maury, AFP