USPS Locks in Gas-Powered Trucks

USPS Locks in Gas-Powered Trucks

This week, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy finalized the purchase of up to 148,000 gasoline-powered mail delivery trucks for the USPS fleet. That's 90% of the new fleet of mail delivery trucks, with the remaining 10% electric. The purchase was rammed through by DeJoy despite requests from the White House and EPA to not go forward with the gas-powered trucks that are only 0.4 MPG more efficient than the current fleet from 1987. But since the USPS is an independent agency, it can't be compelled to follow those requests. According to EPA calculations, the decision will cost $900 million in climate damages.

The Damage Report: USPS Next-Generation Trucks Are A Complete Joke, February 4, 2022.

Why This Matters

The postal service fleet needs an update, and this moment is an opportunity to reduce future emissions instead of locking them in. USPS trucks make up a third of the government's whole fleet, so the decision about replacing outdated vehicles has a substantial impact on the government's overall transportation emissions. This move contradicts President Biden's executive order for the federal government to hit carbon neutrality by 2050, including swapping out its federal fleet for electric vehicles.

Gasoline emissions aren't just a concern for climate change: they are also a major source of air pollution. The decision to keep using gas-powered cars is expected to produce twice as many climate-damaging emissions and as much as three times the air pollution. Also, USPS electrification could yield as much as $4.3 billion in savings.

Reuters: 2021 saw jump in greenhouse-gas emissions, says report, January 10, 2022.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: Electric Vehicles - The Promise for Health and Equity, September 14, 2021.

What's Next?

Since DeJoy started the mandatory environmental review after awarding the contract, lawsuits from environmental groups are expected and could invalidate the contract. As Patricio Portillo, a transportation analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement:

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor financial good sense will stop the leaders of the US Postal Service from trying to buy dirty, polluting delivery trucks. For the sake of clean air and cost savings, it’s time to return this plan to sender.

And according to Electrek, the USPS is trying to greenwash its plan to spend billions on gas guzzlers.

CNN: Trump-appointed postmaster general under DOJ investigation, June 3, 2021.