USPS will buy four times more electric mail trucks than originally announced


The U.S. Postal Service pledged on Wednesday to electrify at least 40% of its new delivery fleet, an increase that climate activists hailed as a major step toward reducing the government’s environmental footprint.

The Postal Service was to purchase up to 165,000 vehicles from Oshkosh Defense, 10% of which would be electric under the initial procurement plan. It will now acquire 50,000 trucks from Oshkosh, half of which will be electric vehicles, and another 34,500 off-the-shelf vehicles, 40% of which will be electric.

The combined 84,500 trucks – which will begin making deliveries at the end of 2023 – will go a long way toward meeting President Biden’s goal of having the entire government fleet powered by EVs by 2035. of 217,000 Postal Service vehicles make up the largest share of the federal government. civilian vehicles.

With record-breaking heat waves blanketing large swaths of the United States and Europe, Biden traveled to Massachusetts on Wednesday to deliver an ultimatum to lawmakers: Take action on the deteriorating global climate, or he will. The president appears ready in the coming weeks to weigh the declaration of a national climate emergency, a move that would grant him new authorities to tackle rising temperatures.

“The Postal Service reiterates its commitment to the fiscally responsible deployment of electric vehicles for the largest and oldest U.S. federal fleet,” the agency said in a statement.

Government regulators and environmental activists had rallied to prevent the Postal Service from buying so many gas trucks. Oshkosh’s internal combustion engine model gets 8.6 mpg with the air conditioning on. That’s less than 0.5 mpg better fuel efficiency than the decades-old trucks they’re about to replace.

Regulators estimated that 150,000 of Oshkosh’s gas-powered trucks would emit about the same amount of Earth-warming carbon dioxide each year as 4.3 million passenger vehicles. White House officials have said such emissions could cause permanent ecological damage. Sixteen states and four of the major US environmental groups filed a lawsuit to end the contract in April.

16 States, DC, climate activists sue USPS to block purchase of trucks

“I think the pressure from environmental justice groups, labor unions, it’s working,” Adrian Martinez, a lawyer for Earthjustice, one of the activist groups that filed the lawsuit, told The Washington Post. “There is still work to be done, but the initial attitude we had when we first met is changing.”

“I’m totally willing to let them grow and change,” said Porter McConnell, campaign manager for consumer rights group Take on Wall Street and co-founder of the Save the Post Office Coalition.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, long a foil to the Biden administration and congressional Democrats, said in June he would revamp some agency operations to improve efficiency and accommodate more electric vehicles.

Postal Service is the process of centralizing mail delivery routes at major processing plants, dramatically reducing the costs associated with electric vehicle charging infrastructure, experts say.

Congress also passed a $107 billion overhaul of the agency in March, freeing up money that postal executives have long sought for capital improvements. Lawmakers from both sides have specifically pointed to the agency’s need for new trucks — its fleet is now 30 years old and has no airbags or air conditioning — to keep up with private sector investment in electric vehicles in approving the legislation.

Senate passes $107 billion overhaul of USPS, praising mail agency’s role in pandemic response

“The only thing that has changed is that their budget situation has improved a lot,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-California), the primary sponsor of the electric postal fleet funding legislation, said in an interview. “Being charitable could be part of the explanation. But the truth is, you don’t need billions of congressional dollars to do the smart thing.

“Electric vehicles are the future of the auto industry and that’s why I’ve been urging the Postal Service to buy more of them as they continue to add more next-generation delivery vehicles and other vehicles to their fleet,” said Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), who chairs the Senate committee dealing with postal issues.

But agency executives and even some of DeJoy’s advisers have been pushing the postmaster for months to pull the agency away from the Oshkosh deal. The contract required a minimum purchase of 50,000 vehicles, after which the agency could open a new auction round for the trucks – or seek a better deal with Oshkosh – at a time when experts predict the price of electric vehicles and their expensive batteries will have dropped. .

That appears to be what DeJoy decided, two such people told the Post. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the agency’s strategy.

Oshkosh shares were flat after the announcement, up less than 1% by midday.

“The Postal Service plans to evaluate and purchase vehicles over shorter periods to be more responsive to changes in its operational strategy, technology improvements and changing market conditions, including increased availability expected from BEV options in the future,” the agency said in a statement. the announcement of the new purchase plan.

Oshkosh’s contract, concluded in February 2021, was widely criticized from the start. The defense contractor had never made electric vehicles and told investors that the electric vehicle market represented a weak point in its capabilities. Peters wrote to DeJoy days after the deal was announced that the contract “Leaves many questions unanswered about the Postal Service’s commitment to a sustainable fleet.”

The House Oversight and Reform Committee opened an investigation into the deal in May after Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (DN.Y.) said the agency “needs to go back to the drawing board” over the purchase plan which was to cost $11.3 billion. .

House panel to investigate USPS plan to buy 8.6mpg trucks

“Our postal service fleet of the future must be clean, affordable and electric,” Maloney said in a statement Wednesday. “This is the fleet the American people deserve. I am pleased with this progress, but I will continue to fight for the Postal Service fleet to fully transition to electric vehicles.”

“Investing in outdated technology has never made sense, and I’m glad the Postmaster General is late to this common-sense achievement,” added Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), who chairs the sub-committee in charge of political office. “We still have work to do, and Congress will continue to help push the USPS toward a modern, green fleet.”

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