USPS Sue on new gas-powered mail trucks 2022-04-28 14:56:11


WASHINGTON — Attorneys general from 16 states and the District of Columbia, along with five environmental groups and United Auto Workers, launched a legal challenge against the United States Postal Service Thursday, claiming it broke the law when it ordered thousands of new letters. Petrol trucks instead of electricity.

Taken together, the three lawsuits filed in two different federal courts raise the stakes of a struggle over the climatic effects of the Postal Service’s infamous delivery trucks that have troubled the administration for months.

Earlier this year, a prominent Democrat in the House of Representatives, Gerald Connolly of Virginia, called to resign Louis Dejoy, Postmaster, saying he mocked President Biden executive order To power the federal fleet by placing an order worth up to $6 billion over 10 years for mostly gasoline-powered trucks.

The Postal Service is an independent agency that is not bound by the department’s climate rules. It also owns more than 231,000 vehicles, which is one of the largest civilian fleets in the world. The contract would be the first large-scale purchase of the Postal Service in three decades.

Environmentalists said Mr. DeJoy’s order of 165,000 gasoline-powered mail delivery trucks from Oshkosh Defense, a Wisconsin-based company that makes military vehicles, could harm the nation’s efforts to combat climate change. The United Auto Workers said it breaks the president’s promise to push environmental policies that will grow union jobs, as the new trucks are expected to be built in non-union plants.

These criticisms could have political repercussions for the president, who has counted on the support of environmental activists and union workers to win the White House in 2020.

But the move was also illegal, according to court filings by environmentalists, unionists and Democratic attorneys general in California, New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois and 10 other states in addition to the capital.

They wrote that the Postal Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970, or NEPA, which required it to consider the environmental impacts of purchasing the car.

“Instead, the Postal Service first selected a manufacturer with little experience in the production of electric cars, signed a contract, and made a large down payment for new cars,” the prosecutor wrote. “In doing so, the Postal Service failed to comply with even the most basic requirements of NEPA.”

Postal Service spokeswoman Kimberly Froome said the claim was false. “The Postal Service conducted a robust and thorough review and fully complied with all of our obligations,” she wrote in an email.

Froome added that the decision to buy gasoline-powered trucks, rather than more expensive electric trucks, also took into account the financial problems of the Postal Service, which currently has debts of about $206.4 billion. Earlier this month, Biden signed a bipartisan law that will forgive some of that debt.

The Postal Service is fully committed to including electric vehicles as an important part of our delivery fleet even though the investment will cost more than just an internal combustion engine vehicle. Having said that, as we have stated time and time again, we must make financially wise decisions regarding the required entry of a new vehicle fleet,” Ms Froome wrote.

The Postal Service estimated that the new vehicles would get 29.9 miles per gallon. A separate analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency found that vehicles can achieve less than half that: just 14.7 miles per gallon. With the air conditioner turned on, the new trucks will get just 8.6 miles per gallon, the Environmental Protection Agency said.

While mail delivery trucks make up a small part of the roughly 280 million vehicles on the road in the United States, environmental groups said the decision to order new gasoline-powered alternatives could be significant. The all-electric fleet will not only provide environmental benefits and help the emerging manufacturing sector, but will also serve as a powerful symbol of management determined to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels.

“Instead of moving forward with common sense and available technology to mitigate the climate crisis, clean our air, and create good union jobs, the USPS has decided to preserve polluting communities at a time when federal agencies must lead the way in electrification,” said Catherine Garcia, a policy expert with the Club Sierra, an environmental litigant.