Sure, it goes against everything we learned in elementary school -- cut in line and suffer ridicule and a knuckle to the shoulder -- but it turns out the city of Dallas has every right to allow compressed natural gas-powered taxis to queue-jump at Love Field to improve air quality, U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade ruled Wednesday.
Back in 2010, it was a small gesture acknowledging that Dallas-Fort Worth air quality is horrendously bad and in perennial violation of federal standards. Need evidence? Look at the skyline around 2 o'clock in the afternoon. No, it's not foggy out. The move, however, pissed off the airport cabbies driving good ol' fashioned gasoline burners. They coalesced around the newly formed Association of Taxicab Operators and in 2010 shut down the Love Field entrance, sat out New Year's Eve and boycotted the Super Bowl last year. That elicited a collective shrug from the city, which figured, despite the association's 2,000-driver membership, that Dallas already had a surfeit of cabbies. Then DFW followed suit. The new policy, the group feared, would put them out of business. The association's chairman and attorney, John Bryant, didn't get back to Unfair Park as of this posting.
They argued in court that the city was horning in on the authority of the feds under the Clean Air Act. In April 2010, the federal court issued a temporary restraining order against the city, halting the rule, but decided against a more long-lasting injunction that August.
On Wednesday, the court clearly didn't buy the cabbies' preemption argument, writing that the law actually empowered the states and cities to decide for themselves how best to clean their air. In fact, this week the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals backhanded the EPA for rejecting Texas' air quality plan, noting that it doesn't matter how we clean up, just as long as we do it (so far, we haven't).
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At least in this court, the saga ends, and the cabbies' will have to pick up the city's probably not-insignificant legal tab. Tips, anyone?