Almost Too Green

You wouldn’t believe how hard it was to get an E-Z Pass “Green Pass” tag – which entitles holders to a 10% discount on New York Thruway tolls, and is designed to help promote the adoption of “hybrid and alternative fuel cars”. You’d think a 100% electric car – with no emissions at all – would qualify and be welcomed to the program like a celebrity at a night club. You’d be wrong.

I first made the application back in June, and quickly got a form rejection letter stating that “Your vehicle does not meet the requirements for a Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle”. Now I don’t even drive on the NYS Thruway regularly, but the injustice of it all just killed me. So I made a second application, and followed up with a phone call. The person I spoke with sounded very pleasant and eager to help, and agreed that MINI E #217 should get a Green Tag, and that they would be looking out for my new application.

About a week later I got the identical rejection form letter in the mail.

At this point it became mostly a principle thing with me, so for my third application I did my research and was able to fax a paper along with the application that shows the car meets the standards as a “California Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” (which EZ Pass NY uses as the basis for granting Green Pass status). I even had a funny moment when a weary EZ Pass NY employee and I got into a low-level circular discussion on the topic of what qualifies as “Super Ultra Low”:

IMG_0924EZ Pass: “Sir, according to my screen, your car isn’t a Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle”

Me: “Well, it doesn’t have any emissions at all…it’s Super Ultra Nothing Emissions really.”

EZ Pass: “Sir, it isn’t a SULEV (Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle) then.”

Me: “But isn’t the point of the Green Pass program to promote low emissions? And isn’t Zero about as low as you can get?”

EZ Pass: “It may be, but it isn’t Super Ultra Low.”

Me: “So if I had some emissions, that would let me get a Green Pass?”

EZ Pass: “It seems that way.”

Me: “Maybe I could hook up a small gasoline engine to the car, like they have in model airplanes?”

EZ Pass: “(Laughing) You can call us back then I suppose.”

Then, out of the blue, I received a new EZ Pass Green Tag in the mail a couple of weeks later. And the EZ Pass site now lists MINI COOPER E as a qualified car. The lesson here? Living ahead of bureaucratic categories isn’t always easy, but it can be entertaining!


One response to “Almost Too Green

  1. Maybe you should have used this setup:


    Well done for bucking the bureaucrats!

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