States sue Postal Service over new gas-powered mail trucks

WASHINGTON — Attorneys general from 16 states and the District of Columbia, along with five environmental groups and the United Auto Wor...


WASHINGTON — Attorneys general from 16 states and the District of Columbia, along with five environmental groups and the United Auto Workers, launched a lawsuit Thursday against the United States Postal Service, claiming it violated the law by ordering thousands of new mails. gasoline-powered trucks instead of electricity.

Together, the three lawsuits filed in two different federal courts raise the stakes of a dispute over the climate impacts of the Postal Service’s iconic delivery trucks that has rattled the administration for months.

Earlier this year, a prominent House Democrat, Gerald Connolly of Virginia, called for resignation of Louis DeJoy, the postmaster general, saying he flouted President Biden Executive Decree electrify the federal fleet by placing an order worth up to $6 billion over 10 years for primarily gasoline-powered trucks.

La Poste is an independent agency that is not bound by the administration’s climate rules. It also has more than 231,000 vehicles, one of the largest civilian fleets in the world. The contract would be the Postal Service’s first large-scale vehicle purchase in three decades.

Environmentalists said Mr. DeJoy’s order of 165,000 gas-powered mail delivery trucks from Oshkosh Defense, a Wisconsin-based company that makes military vehicles, could hurt the country’s efforts to tackle climate change. The United Auto Workers said they were breaking the president’s promise to advance environmental policies that will increase union jobs, since new trucks would have to be built in non-union factories.

These criticisms could have political repercussions for the president, who relied on the support of environmental activists and trade unionists to win the White House in 2020.

But that move was also illegal, according to court filings from environmentalists, labor and Democratic attorneys general from California, New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois and 10 other states as well as DC. .

They wrote that the Postal Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970, or NEPA, which required it to consider the environmental impacts of purchasing the vehicle.

“Instead, the Postal Service first selected a manufacturer with minimal experience producing electric vehicles, signed a contract, and made a substantial down payment for the new vehicles,” the attorneys general wrote. “In doing so, the Postal Service failed to meet the most basic requirements of NEPA.”

A Postal Service spokeswoman, Kimberly Frum, said that claim was false. “The Postal Service has conducted a rigorous and thorough review and has fully complied with all of our obligations,” she wrote in an email.

Ms. Frum added that the decision to buy the gas-powered trucks, rather than the more expensive electric trucks, also took into account the financial difficulties of the Postal Service, which is currently about $206.4 billion in debt. Earlier this month, Mr. Biden signed bipartisan legislation that will relieve some of that debt.

“The Postal Service is fully committed to including electric vehicles as an important part of our delivery fleet, although the investment will cost more than an internal combustion engine vehicle. That said, as we have repeatedly said, we must make prudent budgetary decisions in the necessary introduction of a new fleet of vehicles,” Ms Frum wrote.

The Postal Service estimated the new vehicles would get 29.9 miles per gallon. A separate EPA analysis found the vehicles could achieve less than half that: just 14.7 miles per gallon. And with the air conditioning on, the new trucks would only get 8.6 miles per gallon, the EPA said.

While mail delivery trucks represent just a tiny fraction of the roughly 280 million vehicles on the road in the United States, environmental groups have said the decision to order new gas-powered replacements could be a big one. An all-electric fleet would not only provide environmental benefits and help an emerging manufacturing sector, but also serve as a powerful symbol of an administration determined to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels.

“Instead of moving forward with common sense and available technology to alleviate the climate crisis, clean our air, and create good union jobs, the USPS has decided to continue polluting communities at a time when federal agencies should lead the way in electrification,” said Katherine García, policy expert with the Sierra Club, one of the environmental litigants.

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Newsrust - US Top News: States sue Postal Service over new gas-powered mail trucks
States sue Postal Service over new gas-powered mail trucks
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