Despite President Joe Biden pleading, the United States Postal Service, USPS, will go on with its plan to replace its fleet with majorly gas-powered vehicles.
The USPS, one of the most visible government agencies in the US, has indicated that it will continue with its plan to replace its aging vehicles with mostly ICE vehicles. Only about ten percent of the new mail trucks will be battery-electric vehicles (BEVs). This is despite President Biden urging it to reassess its plans.
The agency is independent and has decided there are no legal reasons to delay the replacement of about 165,000 trucks.
Commenting on the postal agency’s plans, Postmaster General Loius DeJoy said the project has to get started, although his organization will consider adding EVs in the future. “As we have reiterated throughout this process, our commitment to an electric fleet remains ambitious given the pressing vehicle and safety needs of our aging fleet as well as our fragile financial condition. As our financial position improves with the ongoing implementation of our 10-year plan, Delivering for America, we will continue to pursue the acquisition of additional BEV as additional funding – from either internal or congressional sources – becomes available. But the process needs to keep moving forward. The men and women of the U.S. Postal Service have waited long enough for safer, cleaner vehicles to fulfill on our universal service obligation to deliver to 161 million addresses in all climates and topographies six days per-week.”
The USPS unveiled its next-generation trucks in early 2021, as the former administration was winding up. This was after a bidding process that lasted years, with defense contractor Oshkosh placing the winning bid. The company will replace the mail trucks supplied by another defense contractor, Grumman. The trucks are over two decades and show their age, with a significant portion of the agency’s budget going to maintenance.
DeJoy maintained before Congress last year that only ten percent of the new trucks will be electric because the USPS doesn’t have the billions of dollars required to go fully electric.
To persuade the agency to change its stand, the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality sent open letters. However, they apparently didn’t have the desired effect.
A big part of President Biden’s policy is hinged on carbon-neutrality and might become what will define his administration. He wants to achieve carbon-neutrality on the federal level by 2050. He has pledged to spend billions of dollars purchasing EVs, upgrading federal buildings, and incentivizing the citizenry to adopt zero-emission transportation and way of life.
However, the USPS claims it decided to move ahead with the plans after carefully considering the EPA’s request for another environmental impact statement. “We thank the federal agencies, including the EPA, for their input,” said Mark Guilfoil, USPS’s vice president of supply management, in a statement. “After thorough review and study we determined that EPA’s request for a supplemental [environmental impact statement] and public hearing would not add value to the Postal Service’s already year-long review. It is also important to note that a supplemental EIS and public hearing are not legally required.”
Under the umbrella of the Zero Emission Transportation Association, the EV industry has condemned the USPS’ action, a similar stance taken by environmentalists.
The presidency cannot order the USPS to change its plans, although Congress may do so if it can get a majority. Congress can also provide the funds the USPS claims not to have.