Electric truck battle takes new turn
Washington Postal Scene by Bill McAllister
The battle between President Joe Biden and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy over electric mail delivery trucks has taken a new turn.
The United States Postal Service announced July 20 that it will double the number of electric vehicles in its first order, an action welcomed by environmentalists and Democrats who were furious that DeJoy’s initial plans required only 10 percent of the agency’s new trucks to be powered by electricity.
As criticism grew, DeJoy raised the percentage to 20 percent.
Now the USPS is talking about having 40 percent of its overall fleet run by electricity, a step that delighted some of DeJoy’s critics.
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, said, “I am pleased by this progress, but I will continue to fight for the Postal Service fleet to fully transition to electric vehicles.”
Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., also supported the Postal Service’s action. He promised to continue to press for “every part of the postal fleet to be environmentally friendly and union-made.”
That’s been the goal of House Democrats and Biden who want to make the USPS the leader in a governmentwide plan to get federal agencies to abandon gas-powered vehicles.
In announcing the decision to double the number of electric trucks in its first order from 20 percent to 40 percent, the Postal Service disclosed that its immediate truck purchases have expanded to include 34,000 commercial gas-powered off-the-shelf vehicles.
The Postal Service said it will have an overall fleet with “at least 40 percent” electric trucks once its new purchase plan is joined with the previously announced plans to purchase 50,000 customized Next Generation Delivery Vehicles.
The Postal Service said it reiterated “its commitment to the fiscally responsible roll-out of electric-powered vehicles for America’s largest and oldest federal fleet.”
The first of the new delivery trucks will be manufactured by Oshkosh Defense at a new plant in South Carolina. The trucks should be on postal routes in late 2023, the USPS said.
What underlines the tension between DeJoy and the Democrats is the fact that the Postal Service will need some taxpayer funding to support the truck purchases.
Postal officials have said that the number of electric trucks could depend on tax support for the trucks and the recharging stations needed to keep them running.
Congressional Democrats have been adamant that the Postal Service’s first environmental impact statement concerning its plans for a new generation of mail delivery trucks was built on what Maloney has called “flawed assumptions” that favored the purchase of “gas-guzzling delivery trucks.”
The Postal Service announced June 1 that it will add a supplemental environmental impact statement to its plan.
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