Post office buys gas trucks, despite Biden's climate order

WASHINGTON — A senior House Democratic official on Wednesday called for the resignation of Louis DeJoy, the postmaster general, saying h...


WASHINGTON — A senior House Democratic official on Wednesday called for the resignation of Louis DeJoy, the postmaster general, saying he was flouting President Biden’s plan to electrify the federal fleet by placing a multibillion-dollar order to most gasoline vehicles.

Representative Gerald Connolly, the Virginia Democrat who heads the House subcommittee overseeing the United States Postal Service, called the decision to invest in more gas trucks “antediluvian” and a threat. for the government’s ability to fight climate change.

“The average age of the mail fleet is 30 years old,” said Connolly. “They spit pollution and consume gasoline. There is no doubt that we need to replace the fleet, and this is a unique opportunity to take electric vehicle technology to the next level with the second largest fleet of vehicles in America.

“If we miss this opportunity, it will set back the whole direction of the electric vehicle agenda,” he said.

The Postal Service has over 231,000 vehicles, one of the largest civilian fleets in the world. The distinctive red, white and blue trucks travel the country from congested cities to quiet rural towns. An all-electric fleet would not only provide environmental benefits and help an emerging manufacturing sector, but would serve as a powerful symbol of an administration determined to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels.

Mr. Connolly called for a monitoring hearing to review the contract between the government and Oshkosh Defense, a Wisconsin-based company that makes military vehicles. Other Democrats said they wanted the council that oversees the post office to remove Mr. DeJoy.

The order, for up to 165,000 trucks, would be the Postal Service’s first large-scale vehicle purchase in three decades, according to a statement from Oshkosh Defense.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the White House Council on Environmental Quality wrote to Mr. DeJoy on Wednesday to say the Postal Service made the wrong decision to buy gasoline trucks on the based on an erroneous environmental analysis.

The letters also said the Postal Service improperly committed more than $480 million to begin engineering and construction before the flawed environmental review was even completed.

“The Postal Service’s proposal as currently designed represents a critical missed opportunity to more quickly reduce the carbon footprint of one of the largest government fleets in the world,” wrote EPA Associate Administrator Vicki Arroyo. for politics. The agency’s letter was first reported by The Washington Post.

Kim Frum, spokesman for the Postal Service, said it was reviewing letters from environmental agencies.

Ms Frum said the Post Office was “fully satisfied” with the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires agencies to consider environmental consequences before taking major action. She said the concerns raised by the White House and the EPA stemmed from “political disagreements” rather than the analysis itself.

“While we can understand why some who are not responsible for the financial viability of the Postal Service might prefer that we acquire more electric vehicles, the law requires us to be self-sufficient,” Ms. Frum wrote in a statement. “For this reason, given our current financial situation, the total cost of ownership of our fleet of delivery vehicles must be part of our analysis.”

Ms Frum said the Postal Service wants to accelerate the pace of electrifying its fleet, subject to funding. She did not respond to the congresswoman’s call for Mr. DeJoy’s resignation.

President Biden has called on federal agencies to phase out the purchase of gas-powered vehicles and by 2035 to purchase only zero-emission cars and trucks. But last February, the Postal Service said it could not afford an all-electric fleet and that 10% of new trucks would be electric while 90% would be gasoline. The EPA estimated the climate damage that would be caused by the new fleet at $900 million.

“This goes directly against the goals that Congress and the president have set for themselves to have an emissions-free federal fleet,” Mr. Connolly said. He called the contract a “huge example” of why he thinks Mr DeJoy should quit.

“I would like him to resign and if he doesn’t resign I want the board of governors to fire him,” Mr Connolly said.

Currently, electric vehicles make up about 1.5% of the government fleet. In fiscal year 2021, the administration purchased 650 electric vehicles, the administration said, a number it hopes to increase several-fold this year and beyond. The government buys about 50,000 vehicles a year, many of which are replacement vehicles.

La Poste is an independent agency and not bound by the administration’s new climate rules.

On Wednesday, a White House official said the administration still intends to push the Postal Service to electrify its fleet.

The service is currently about $206.4 billion in debt, and the House is set to ease that burden with a sweeping postal reform bill that is expected to come to a vote in the coming weeks.

Mr Connolly said he would support an amendment canceling the trucking contract or requiring the Post to buy electric vehicles. He also noted, however, that the postal reform legislation took 12 years to negotiate and is now backed by a “fragile” bipartisan coalition that he is not prepared to antagonize.

“I don’t want a Pyrrhic victory on this issue where it knocks the whole bill down,” he said.

Mr. Connolly said he and other Democrats would also seek other avenues, including bringing in stand-alone legislation on the issue or using the appropriations process to move the Postal Service.

The Build Back Better Act, the centerpiece of Mr. Biden’s legislative agenda, includes about $6 billion to help the Post Office pay for electric vehicles and charging stations. This bill is stalled in Congress.

Mr. DeJoy, a Republican donor and former business leader who was nominated by former President Donald J. Trump, has been mired in controversial on cost-cutting measures that have been criticized for slow mail delivery during the 2020 elections, when many voters planned to vote by mail, as well as delays in the delivery of medicines and bills.

Mr. DeJoy has proposed a 10-year plan that would raise some prices and slow down service in a bid to recoup billions in projected losses.

The Postmaster General can only be removed by the Board of Governors of nine members of the Postal Service, who are appointed by the President. Congressional Democrats and liberal groups have sought to replace Mr. DeJoy since he took office in June 2020, and they had urged Mr. Biden to install more Democrats on the board who could oust him.

In November, Mr Biden named two new members, Dan Tangherlini, Democrat and former chief of the General Services Administration, and Derek Kan, Republican and former deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. If confirmed by the Senate, they would replace two outgoing members whose terms are expiring and who have been allies of Mr. DeJoy. By law, no more than five members can belong to the same party.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Post office buys gas trucks, despite Biden's climate order
Post office buys gas trucks, despite Biden's climate order
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