The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) estimated that the federal government would need to provide $3.3 billion in additional funds for the agency to purchase a completely electric vehicle fleet.

‘Lost Opportunity’: White House Slams USPS Plan To Buy More Gas-Powered Vehicles

Thomas Catenacci 

The USPS has failed to properly assess the environmental impact of its plan to replace its current aging fleet with so-called next-generation delivery vehicles (NGDV), according to the EPA and Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) letters sent Wednesday and obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation. The White House said that the postal service’s congressionally-mandated environmental review of the proposal was deeply flawed.

“The Postal Service’s proposal as currently crafted represents a crucial lost opportunity to more rapidly reduce the carbon footprint of one of the largest government fleets in the world,” EPA Associate Administrator Vicki Arroyo wrote to the USPS.

“A ten-percent commitment to clean vehicles, with virtually no fuel efficiency gains for the other 90 percent is plainly inconsistent with international, national, and many state GHG emissions reduction targets,” she wrote.

Arroyo noted that net-zero proposals from FedEx, Amazon, and Walmart were far superior to the USPS plan.

In February 2021, the USPS announced a multi-billion-dollar, 10-year deal with U.S. automaker Oshkosh Defense to produce fuel-efficient vehicles and some electric models. But the deal would only electrify about 10% of the fleet, replacing the majority of the 165,000 trucks with gas-powered models.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who previously characterized the USPS’ finances as “dire,” explained that a greater expansion of electric delivery vehicles would be unfeasible and too costly. Replacing the entire fleet would cost as much as $3.3 billion, a recent USPS estimate concluded.

In her letter Wednesday, CEQ Chair Brenda Mallory suggested that federal courts or Congress may intervene if the USPS doesn’t modify its proposal. She noted that the transition to a cleaner USPS fleet is a priority for the Biden administration.

“While I have the concerns outlined above, I also understand that NGDV presents a critical opportunity to harness modern clean technologies, reduce pollution, and sustain competitiveness over the coming decades,” Mallory wrote.

The Build Back Better Act, President Joe Biden’s spending package that was killed by Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, included $6 billion in funds for creating a majority electric USPS vehicle fleet and expanding charging infrastructure nationwide, Mallory said.

“We are carefully reviewing EPA’s most recent letter, to determine if any new matters have been raised that have not already been thoroughly addressed in our prior responses to the EPA, and that might therefore warrant further consideration,” USPS spokesperson Kim Frum told the DCNF in a statement Thursday.

“The Postal Service has engaged in extensive discussions with the Administration and Congress to explain our financial condition and the reasons why additional funding would be necessary to accelerate this pace over the course of our ten-year contract,” the statement said.

Frum said that the postal service was open to accelerating the electrification of its fleet in a way that is not financially detrimental. But she said the USPS believes its legal assessment of the plan was sound and that objections to it “stem from policy disagreements.”

The Hill first reported the EPA and CEQ’s letters. The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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