This afternoon, in a remarkable decision, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted a preliminary injunction that prevents the City of New York from enforcing a rule that would have required taxis to effectively operate hybrid vehicles. The decision is available here:

http://www.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/city_room/20081031_Crottydecision.pdf.

The case upholds — and arguably tightens — the teaching of the United States Supreme Court in its EMA v. SCAQMD decision, which held that the Clean Air Act preempts efforts by local governments to require fleet operators to acquire certain types of vehicles. Those vehicles are typically alternatively fueled. In reaching that decision, the Supreme Court said that governments could, however, regulate fleet acquisition decisions as part of government procurement policy.

The government procurement policy rationale was raised by the City of New York in this case, and rejected, with the SDNY noting that licensed taxi cabs are not part of the government procurement policy.