USPS Says It Can't Afford to Make New Fleet Electric

EPA calls plan to make 90% of new vehicles gas-powered a 'crucial lost opportunity'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2022 4:45 PM CST
USPS Slammed for Plan to Replace Fleet With Gas Guzzlers
Delivery trucks arrive at the loading dock at the United States Postal Service sorting and processing facility Nov. 18, 2021, in Boston.   (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

(Newser) – The United States Postal Service is replacing its delivery fleet for the first time in 30 years—and critics including the Environmental Protection Agency aren't happy about plans to make most of the new vehicles gas-guzzlers. Under current plans, only 10% of the fleet's 165,000 new delivery trucks due to come into service over the next decade will be electric, the Guardian reports. The $11.3 billion proposal "represents a crucial lost opportunity to more rapidly reduce the carbon footprint of one of the largest government fleets in the world," Associate EPA Administrator Vicki Arroyo told the USPS in a letter last week. She called the USPS plan "the single largest federal vehicle procurement in the foreseeable future."

The gas-powered vehicles will have a fuel efficiency of just 8.2 miles per gallon, which the Guardian notes is "even less efficient than the original Hummer, a vehicle infamous for the vast amount of fuel it burned through." Mail trucks account for almost one-third of the federal government's vehicles, and the Biden administration has tasked the federal government with hitting net zero emissions by 2050. Adrian Martinez, an attorney at the Earthjustice nonprofit, urged the administration to "play hardball over this contract."

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, the Donald Trump ally who oversaw the awarding of the vehicle contract, has argued that the service's "perilous" financial situation obligated it to make cost a big consideration when replacing its fleet. "The Postal Service is certainly willing to accelerate the pace of electrification of our delivery fleet if a solution can be found to do so that is not financially detrimental," USPS spokeswoman Kim Frum told the AP last week. The Postal Service says full electrification of the fleet would cost an extra $3.3 billion. Funds for full electrification were included in the administration's Build Back Better bill, but the legislation is stalled in the Senate and holdout Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has declared it "dead." (Read more US Postal Service stories.)

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