USPS is being sued over plans for a gas-guzzling fleet

Neither rain nor snow nor electric vehicles.

Miami, USA - January 18, 2013: United States Post Office mail truck (USPS) speeding in Miami, Florid...
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The current fleet of mail trucks is so old that they’re bursting into flames, and many lack safety features like anti-lock brakes and airbags. Back in 2015, the USPS oversaw a competition for new mail delivery vehicles, and after years of deliberations and delays, the USPS announced the winner in 2021. The vehicle selected for the long-overdue fleet overhaul was (drumroll…) Pixar-esque, duck-looking trucks. But the vehicles have a fuel efficiency of just 14.7 mpg without air conditioning on (or a measly 8.6 mpg with the AC pumping), and most of the new vehicles would not be electric.

The Biden administration and the EPA, however, have urged the USPS to purchase more electric trucks in order to meet the White House’s goal of slashing vehicle emissions by 2030. Purchasing 165,000 vehicles, of which 90 percent are gas-powered, doesn’t align with the mission of electrifying American vehicles, and a group of states and environmental organizations aren’t happy about it.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta told the Associated Press that “once this purchase goes through, we’ll be stuck with more than 100,000 new gas-guzzling vehicles on neighborhood streets, serving homes across our state and across the country, for the next 30 years. There won’t be a reset button.”

Lawsuit — His state of California is teaming up with fifteen other states to sue the USPS, aiming to halt the purchase of gas-guzzling vehicles. The purchase is alleged to violate the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act. According to the Associated Press, there is a different lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity, Earthjustice, CleanAirNow KC, and Sierra Club and another filed in New York by the Natural Resources Defense Council and United Auto Workers.

According to the California lawsuit, the postal service started its review six months after it had signed a contract. The suit also alleges that USPS made inaccurate estimates for its fuel prices, emission levels, and battery costs. It’s been a tough few years of funding cuts under postmaster general Louis DeJoy, and unlike many government agencies, the Postal Service is prohibited from requesting government help to tackle deficits and debts.

The lawsuit adds more delays to the already-delayed effort to replace the iconic Grunman LLV, which went into service between 1987 and 1994.