The Center for Biological Diversity, CleanAirNow, Sierra Club, and 16 states filed lawsuits in California federal court today challenging the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) decision to replace its aging fleet with close to 150,000 gas-burning delivery trucks.
Last year the Postal Service, under the leadership of Trump appointee Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, finalized a contract to replace 165,000 aging postal trucks. It chose Oshkosh Defense, a company with no experience producing electric vehicles, and ordered 90% gas-burning trucks and only 10% electric vehicles.
“Louis DeJoy’s gas-guzzling fleet guarantees decades of pollution with every postcard and package, and we’re hopeful the court will block it,” said Scott Hochberg, an attorney with the Center’s Climate Law Institute. “The entire federal government is rushing to electrify, and the Postal Service can’t be driving in the opposite direction.”
Current postal trucks, which are around 30 years old, get 8.2 miles per gallon. The proposed gas-burning replacements get 14.7 mpg, and only 8.6 mpg with air conditioning.
The lawsuit says the Postal Service sidestepped mandatory environmental reviews that needed to be completed before the agency made a purchasing decision. Instead, the Postal Service released a draft environmental impact statement for its plan six months after it had already signed the contract with Oshkosh, in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act.
“The purpose of environmental review is to inform the Postal Service’s decision, not rubberstamp a plan it had already made,” said Hochberg. “Postal delivery trucks visit almost every neighborhood in the United States daily. It’s backward and bewildering that the USPS would show such disregard for climate and public health with its decision.”
The Postal Service’s proposal has received an avalanche of criticism, including from fellow government agencies. The Environmental Protection Agency called the environmental impact statement “seriously deficient” and “inconsistent with the requirements of NEPA.” The White House’s Council on Environmental Quality noted that USPS “committed to walk down a path before looking to see where that path was leading.”
The lawsuit comes as the federal government is working to use its power to curb the climate crisis. President Biden has directed government agencies to acquire only zero-emission vehicles by 2027 and to reduce greenhouse gas pollution by 50% by 2030, goals which will be impossible to meet if the Postal Service purchases mostly gas-powered vehicles.
“Postal trucks are a prime opportunity for electrification as most drive short distances and charge at a central location every night,” said Hochberg. “Instead of punishing communities with more pollution, USPS can set a strong example for other federal and civilian fleets looking to electrify. With one move the Postal Service can save money in the long run, increase the country’s energy independence, and reduce air pollution across the nation. It’s a shame we have to ask the courts to make them do it.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
Press courtesy of Center For Biological Diversity.
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