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Media Alerts - Ass'n of Taxicab Operators USA v. City of Dallas - Fifth Circuit
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June 14, 2013
  Ass'n of Taxicab Operators USA v. City of Dallas - Fifth Circuit
Headline: Fifth Circuit Rules that City Ordinance Conferring Privileges on CNG-Powered Taxicabs Is Not Preempted by the Clean Air Act.

Area of Law: Environmental law.

Issue Presented: Whether a city ordinance that allows taxicabs powered by compressed natural gas to cut ahead of other taxicabs in the queue for soliciting passengers at an airport creates an emissions standard preempted by the Clean Air Act.

Brief Summary: The Association of Taxicab Operators, USA (ATO), representing taxicabs in the Dallas and Fort Worth areas, sued the City of Dallas when the City passed an ordinance giving taxicabs powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) a head-of-the-line privilege before gasoline-powered taxicabs when soliciting passengers at Love Field, an airport in Dallas owned by the City and located in a nonattainment area for ozone. CNG taxicabs emit fewer air pollutants than other taxicabs. ATO claimed that the ordinance was preempted by the federal Clean Air Act and requested injunctive relief. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas dismissed the suit, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed.

The Fifth Circuit held that the City's ordinance was not preempted by the Clean Air Act because it did not impose a "standard relating to the control of emissions" from new motor vehicles either on the ordinance's face or by its indirect effects. On its face, the ordinance's language does not require the use of CNG technology but instead provides an incentive that encourages its use. The only enforcement created by the ordinance is compliance with the head-of-the-line privilege and its related procedures. Also, the ordinance's indirect effects do not create a mandatory standard because taxicabs have alternatives available to them (i.e., working in other areas of the City) to recoup any loss of income created by the ordinance. The ordinance's effects do not force non-CNG taxicabs to convert to CNG technology.

For the full opinion, please see:

Panel: Circuit Judges Jones, Dennis, and Higginson

Argument Date: 02/07/2013

Date of Issued Opinion: 06/13/2013

Docket Number: No. 12-10470

Decided: Affirmed

Case Alert Author: Deena Herndon-Remy

Counsel: Kelly Dean Hollingsworth, Travis, Calhoun & Conlon, P.C., for Plaintiff-Appellant Ass'n of Taxicab Operators USA; Barbara Elaine Rosenberg, City Attorney's Office, for Defendant-Appellee City of Dallas

Author of Opinion: Judge Higginson

Case Alert Circuit Supervisor: Aaron-Andrew P. Bruhl

    Posted By: Aaron Bruhl @ 06/14/2013 09:22 PM     5th Circuit  

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