in ,

The EPA urges the USPS to consider planned purchase of new gas-powered trucks

The immediate past administration left the United States Postal Service straining under the weight of a deal that will see it spend up to $11.3 billion partly on gas-powered delivery trucks. The President Biden government is now urging the agency to reconsider its plans.

The USPS received different letters from the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality to persuade it to increase the number of electric vehicles in its extensive fleet.

Last year, the USPS agreed to purchase new vehicles from a defense contractor, Oshkosh, based in Wisconsin. The vehicles consist of both gasoline and electric drivetrains. Around that time, the Postmaster General of the United States, Loius DeJoy, claimed the USPS could not afford to purchase more electric vehicles. The agency’s spokesperson, Kimberly Frum, cited the law that says it must be self-sufficient in its operations. “While we can understand why some who are not responsible for the financial sustainability of the Postal Service might prefer that the Postal Service acquire more electric vehicles, the law requires the Postal Service to be self-sufficient.”

The agency is currently saddled with more than $200 billion in debt, although much of it could be eliminated under an upcoming vote in the House.

However, the EPA has pointed out that the USPS made a series of incorrect assumptions in its cost and emission estimates that led it down the path of replacing the aging vehicles with new gas-powered models. USPS’s analysis did not properly account for how fast the nation’s EV charging infrastructure would improve. It also miscalculated emission levels from plug-in vehicles and wrongly assumed gas and battery costs would be the same over several decades.

The current trucks in the agency’s fleet are showing their ages. They were supplied by Grumman Long Life Vehicles from the ‘80s. As such, the trucks lack many modern and safety features like air conditioning and airbags. The trucks also cost millions of dollars to maintain while posing significant fire risk due to years of overuse.

In the USPS’s agreement with Oshkosh, 90 percent of the new trucks will be gas-powered. This goes counter to President Biden’s plan to steadily swap out gas-powered vehicles with EVs in the federal government fleet. The USPS accounts for about a third of all federal government-operated vehicles, making the Oshkosh deal significant to the government’s electrification plans.

Making things more complicated, the new trucks to be supplied by Oshkosh are not even very fuel-efficient. It gets a low 8.6 mpg with air conditioning turned on, compared to the industry average of between 12 and 14 mpg for vehicles used in fleets. Also, Oshkosh does not have much experience making vehicles for non-military applications.

The USPS initially claimed the new trucks could be converted into electric vehicles but later confirmed it had no plans to do so.

The EPA has been called upon to force its sister agency to toe the line of EVs by blocking the contract. This can be achieved if the EPA refers the matter to the White House Council on Environmental Quality. The body is empowered to settle disputes between agencies on the environment and public health. However, the EPA has decided not to go down that path but is offering the USPS the chance to comply willingly.

Apart from the EPA, environmental groups could sue the USPS to force it to modify the contract, but the outcome cannot be predicted, even though they would have a strong case.

Written by HackerVibes

Facebook reports numbers for Q4; loses daily active users for the first time

Tesla drivers reporting instances of phantom braking