Green Fleet

N.Y. County Requires 35 MPG for Fleet Purchases

November 12, 2014

Photo courtesy of Ford
Photo courtesy of Ford

Elected officials in Westchester County, N.Y., have approved legislation mandating that new vehicle purchases must be high-mileage vehicles, electric vehicles, hybrid vehicles, or alternative-fuel vehicles.

Under the terms of the new law, a high-mileage vehicle with an internal combustion engine must deliver a combined city/highway fuel consumption of 35 miles per gallon or more, as rated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA’s 2015 fuel economy guide released last week shows that few vehicles in the compact, mid-size, and large car categories fit this requirement.

These vehicles must also have specific smog rating requirements. Vehicle tailpipe emissions of pollutants will need to be six or higher on new vehicles purchased after Jan. 1, seven after Jan. 1, 2016, and eight after Jan. 1, 2017. The scale is based on U.S. vehicle emission standards, with one being worst and ten best. 

A release from the county's Board of Legislators states that these green vehicles typically use less fuel to run and so will reduce fuel costs while also producing less greenhouse gases.

“This new legislation will help Westchester County to transition its fleet of vehicles away from low-mileage, heavy-emission models and toward those that will reduce fuel costs and lower the environmental impact while in use,” said Catherine Parker, chair of the Environment & Energy Committee.

Legislators proposed the law to resolve a problem where the legislative intent of the Alternative Vehicle law passed by officials several years ago was not being followed, according to the release. Presently, exemptions can be granted from the provisions of the existing law regulating the purchase of high mileage and alternative-fuel vehicles for “good cause.” Jenkins believes this has been interpreted too broadly in some cases, resulting in a “loophole” and nominal compliance of the legislation.  

The new legislation defines good cause as use in emergency services, use in essential municipal service, or the unavailability of a high-mileage, electric, hybrid, or alt-fuel vehicle suitable for the intended use.

The Board of Legislators approved the green vehicles bill at its Nov. 10 meeting, and it is being sent to the county executive to be signed into law.

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