Energy & Environment

EPA presses USPS to halt purchase of up to 165K gas-powered vehicles

A U.S. Postal Service truck is seen in a parking lot at the Newgate Shopping Center in Centerville, Va., on Thursday, October 14, 2021.
Greg Nash

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) on Wednesday asked the U.S. Postal Service to reconsider plans to purchase a predominantly gas-powered fleet of up to 165,000 trucks.

In letters to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy obtained by The Hill, EPA Associate Administrator for Policy Vicki Arroyo and CEQ Chair Brenda Mallory noted that the Postal Service fleet is one of the federal government’s biggest.

DeJoy, who also served under former President Trump and is a longtime donor to him, approved the current plan for vehicle purchasing, which only requires one-tenth of new Postal Service trucks to be electric. Oshkosh, the recipient of the Postal Service vehicle contract, is estimated to reduce fuel consumption only about 18 percent, burning about 110 million tons of gasoline annually.

“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,” Arroyo wrote. “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, as well as specific national policies to move with deliberate speed toward clean, zero-emitting vehicles.”

The EPA also wrote that the Postal Service erroneously based its plans for incorporating electric vehicles on the state of existing charging infrastructure, rather than planning for its likely expansion in the years ahead.

“With some additional time and work, I am confident that the USPS can swiftly incorporate the kind of up-to-date information on electric vehicle technology, cost, and deployment that USPS’s competitors are using to inform their own business decisions to electrify their fleets,” Mallory wrote in her own letter.

In a statement to The Hill, a USPS spokesperson said the agency is reviewing the EPA letter and believes it is in full compliance with the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).

“The Postal Service is certainly willing to accelerate the pace of electrification of our delivery fleet if a solution can be found to do so that is not financially detrimental to the Postal Service,” the spokesperson said. “In support of this position, 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.”

In December, President Biden signed an executive order setting a goal of zero-emissions federal government buildings and vehicles by 2050, including zero-emissions vehicles by 2035.

Updated: 7:02 p.m. 

Tags Brenda Mallory Donald Trump Joe Biden Louis DeJoy

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