Postal Service truck plan attacked in lawsuits
By Bill McAllister, Washington Correspondent
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s plan to purchase a limited number of electric-powered mail delivery trucks has been attacked in two lawsuits filed by environmental groups, state attorneys general and a labor union.
The suits focus on what lawyers claim were flawed environmental studies the United States Postal Service conducted to justify the purchase of a largely gasoline-powered fleet.
California joined with 16 other states and the District of Columbia to challenge DeJoy’s plan in a suit filed April 27 in northern California.
The lawsuit alleged the USPS violated “well-established legal precedent” by contracting with Oshkosh Defense of Wisconsin for the new trucks before releasing its draft environmental impact review of the plan.
In an April 28 filing in New York City, the National Resources Defense Council and the United Auto Workers Union also challenged the DeJoy truck plan.
That suit said the Postal Service relied on “wrong or outdated assumptions about the emissions from gasoline-powered trucks and the relative costs of electric vehicles.”
The suits, filed in federal district courts, argue that the DeJoy plan should be set aside by the courts because it violates federal environmental standards. The USPS must be allowed more time to redo its environmental review, the suits said.
Kimberly Frum, a Postal Service spokeswoman, rejected the lawsuits’ allegations.
She said that the Postal Service “conducted a robust and thorough review and fully complied with all of our obligations” under the National Environmental Policy Act.
Frum also noted that the agency’s initial order calls for 50,000 vehicles, 10,019 of which will be electric powered.
But she said the order can be amended during the next 10 years to increase the number of electric vehicles “should additional funding become available.”
“As we have stated repeatedly, we must make fiscally prudent decisions in the needed introduction of a new vehicle fleet,” Frum said.
“We will continue to look for opportunities to increase the electrification of our delivery fleet in a responsible manner,” she said.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a news release that the Postal Service is “doubling down on outdated technologies that are bad for our environment and bad for our communities.”
“Once this purchase goes through, we’ll be stuck with more than 100,000 new gas-guzzling vehicles on neighborhood streets … for the next 30 years,” he said.
Both the Environmental Protection Agency and the White House Council on Environmental Quality have criticized the USPS truck plan, noting it is at odds with President Joe Biden’s plan to make the federal government a major advocate for electric-powered vehicles.
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