USPS rejects Biden plan for electric delivery vehicles
By Bill McAllister, Washington Correspondent
The United States Postal Service has rejected the Biden administration’s effort to make its new mail delivery fleet mostly electric.
The independent federal agency disclosed Feb. 23 that it has considered the administration’s request and decided it will proceed with its initial plans.
The USPS said in a news release that “there is no legal or other basis to delay” its planned truck purchases.
The agency also released a detailed 12-page response to protests that both the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency issued on Feb. 2.
Those agencies both objected to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s plan that calls for about 10 percent of the new trucks to be electrically powered.
That puts DeJoy at odds with President Joe Biden, who has announced that the federal government should make all of its fleets electric.
DeJoy repeated his promise to boost electric truck purchases if either Congress or the agency can provide the additional funds.
“But the process needs to keep moving forward,” DeJoy argued.
“The men and women of the Postal Service have waited long enough for safer, cleaner vehicles to fulfill our universal service obligation,” he said.
DeJoy also cited the agency’s “fragile financial condition” as limiting its truck options.
A senior EPA official criticized the latest Postal Service action.
“The Postal Service’s current course represents a crucial lost opportunity to be a leader in reducing the carbon footprint of one of the largest government fleets in the world,” said Vicki Arroyo, associate administrator for policy for the EPA.
“Purchasing tens of thousands of gasoline-fueled delivery trucks locks USPS into further oil dependence, air pollution and climate impacts for decades to come and harms the long-term prospects for our nation’s vital mail provider,” she said.
Arroyo described the USPS environmental analysis as “fundamentally flawed,” saying it underestimates the costs of gasoline-fueled vehicles and overestimates the cost of electric ones.
The new USPS “record of decision” said it found the gas-powered trucks would be cheaper to operate than electric vehicles, questioning one of the major arguments that the administration had offered.
The Postal Service’s response did acknowledge that an all-electric fleet would have “even greater emission benefits,” but noted the agency’s continuing financial problems.
Mark A. Guilfoil, vice president of supply management for the USPS, called the EPA’s claim of environmental harm from the truck plan “grossly inaccurate.”
The USPS declined the administration’s request for a public hearing on the issue.
The decision brought protests from Congressional Democrats who have been at odds with DeJoy since he became postmaster general in June 2020.
“This decision is yet another shortsighted one from Postmaster DeJoy that will prevent the Postal Service from reaching its full 21st century potential,” said Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., who chairs a subcommittee that oversees the USPS.
“It strikes a blow to our climate, to our effort to lead the world in green technology, and to our beloved USPS — consistently the most beloved federal institution in America,” Connolly said.
One of the Feb. 2 letters the Biden administration sent to the USPS hinted at possible legal action if the USPS proceeded with its plan for a mostly gas-powered fleet.
The announcement of the Postal Service’s plan to purchase mostly gasoline-powered delivery trucks came as the AFL-CIO blasted the decision.
The labor federation said the big truck order should be “union-made in Wisconsin,” where Oshkosh Defense is based and has a union.
Oshkosh Defense has announced it plans to build the trucks in a new plant in South Carolina.
“USPS’ Next Generation Delivery Vehicle is an opportunity for the Biden administration to make real investments in both a cleaner future and good union jobs, but the contract, as it currently stands fails on both counts,” the AFL-CIO said Feb. 23 as it began a petition drive to build the trucks in Wisconsin.
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