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Oversight chair seeks answers on Postal Service electric vehicle plans

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) on Thursday pressed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy for further information on the Postal Service’s acquisition of majority gas-powered vehicles for its fleet rather than electric. 

In the letter, Maloney expressed concerns that the Postal Service based its order on outdated and erroneous data. 

“Based on testimony at the Committee’s recent hearing on this topic and information obtained from the contractor building these vehicles, I am concerned that the Postal Service relied on flawed assumptions to justify the purchase of gas-powered trucks while underestimating the cost savings and environmental benefits from electric vehicles,” Maloney wrote.  

Specifically, Maloney cited testimony by Jill Naamane of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) gave to the committee. In her testimony, Naamane said a GAO analysis found that the Postal Service conducted cost analyses based on a massive underestimation of the cost of gas between 2020 and 2030. In determining a gas-powered fleet would be more cost-effective than an electric fleet, Naamane testified, the Postal Service assumed gas would cost between $2.21 and $2.36 during this period, about $2 less than current average costs. 

Maloney also expressed concerns that the gas-powered vehicle in question was “designed to avoid emissions limits,” noting that a Postal Service official testified that the weight was exactly 1 pound heavier than the weight at which strict emissions limits would kick in. The same official testified that manufacturer Oshkosh, rather than the Postal Service, determined the vehicle weight. 

In her letter, Maloney called on DeJoy to conduct a new cost analysis and environmental impact analysis, as well as develop a new proposal to make a greater share of the vehicle order electric. 

Both congressional Democrats and the Environmental Protection Agency have faulted the Postal Service for the order. The agency maintains the single biggest vehicle fleet within the federal government, and a majority-gas fleet will be a major hurdle to the Biden administration’s carbon-neutrality goals for the federal government.

DeJoy, who was a longtime donor to former President Trump before the Postal Service board of governors appointed him in 2020, has defended the purchase and said anything further was not feasible under the service’s current financial conditions. The agency has also said that while only 10 percent of the initial order are electric, it is a so-called indefinite delivery contract and the share could increase with more funding. 

Maloney’s letter comes weeks after 16 states and a coalition of environmental groups sued over the order, also accusing the Postal Service of basing it on flawed analysis. 

Tags Carolyn Maloney Louis DeJoy

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