Mayor Bloomberg’s long-sought effort to require the city’s taxi fleet to phase in hybrid automobiles is getting a boost today with the introduction of federal legislation that will grant local governments the right to set fuel-efficiency standards for their taxis.
An earlier effort was stripped out of omnibus transportation legislation stalled. It was included in the transportation reauthorization bill, but that bill didn’t pass when Democrats controlled both chambers of the Congress two years ago.
Joining Bloomberg at City Hall this morning to discuss the latest effort were Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Jerry Nadler, both Democrats. Gillibrand, Nadler and Bloomberg said the money taxi drivers save on gasoline could be pumped into the local economy.
The problem the legislation is likely to face is in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where new leadership has put a focus on scaling back many of the regulations pushed through when Democrats ran that chamber.
When asked about the chances of the bill getting through the Republican-controlled House, Nadler said, “We don’t know at this point.”
On one hand, he said, there was an openness for expanding “state’s rights” among the new freshman Republicans. On the other hand, Nadler said Republicans “have shown themselves to be rather sensitive to lobbyists” and “interest groups, and that tends to be against the bill.”
Gillibrand was more optimistic, saying the legislation is “very timely” considerubg the “volatility” in the Middle East, a major source of oil for the U.S.
“It’s the kind of idea you can build a consensus around,” she said, because “it’s pro-growth, addresses national security concerns of lessening our dependency on Middle Eastern oil.”