Sixteen states, as well as several prominent climate activists, sued the US Postal Service this week over its plan to buy 148,000 gas-guzzling delivery trucks over the next decade, claiming the agency failed to consider the environmental impact of its decision. .
The states accuse the USPS of only conducting a “perfunctory environmental review to justify the decision to replace 90 percent of its delivery fleet with fossil fuel-powered internal combustion engine vehicles, despite other available environmentally preferable alternatives.” says the lawsuit. “In doing so, the Postal Service failed to meet even the most basic requirements of [National Environmental Policy Act].”
The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California by the attorneys general for the states of California, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island. , Vermont, Washington State, Washington, DC, and New York City.
USPS, under the leadership of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, has been at odds with environmentalists about the need to electrify the agency’s fleet. After a years-long bidding process, the USPS introduced its next generation mail truck in February 2021, to be done by Oshkosh Defense. They will replace current mail trucks that have been in service for more than two decades, which were built by another defense contractor, Grumman.
The postal service originally said it would buy 165,000 next-generation mail trucks, only 10 percent of which would be battery electric vehicles. President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats urged the agency to increase the number of electric vehicles, but the USPS determined there was no legal reason to change its plans. But, earlier this year, the service said that increase its initial electric vehicle order from 5,000 to 10,019determining that it “makes sense from an operational and financial perspective.”
Still, states accuse the USPS of relying on poor judgment and an incomplete process to purchase gasoline vehicles that only get 8.6 miles per gallon while using air conditioning compared to an industry average of 12 to 14 mpg for vehicles. of fleet.
In response, the USPS defended its practices, noting that it remains open to increasing its order for more electric vehicles in the future should additional funds become available to do so.
“The Postal Service is fully committed to including electric vehicles as a significant part of our delivery fleet, even though the investment will cost more than an internal combustion engine vehicle,” a spokesperson said in an email. “Having said that, as we have said repeatedly, we must make fiscally prudent decisions in the necessary introduction of a new fleet of vehicles.”
Congress recently approved a $50 billion bailout package for the USPS, which has lost more than $90 billion since 2007. DeJoy has proposed cutting billions of dollars in funding and slower first-class mail deliveries as new standards.