Service sector

Sixteen states are suing the Postal Service over its plan to buy gas-powered vehicles

Sixteen States Thursday sued the US Postal Service over its plan to replace its aging delivery fleet with thousands of gas-powered delivery vehicles over the next decade, alleging that the agency has failed to adequately consider the vehicles’ environmental damage. They were joined by the District of Columbia, New York City and a Bay Area organization. Environmental and labor groups have filed separate lawsuits.

The lawsuits argue that the agency’s environmental analysis to justify spending up to $11.3 billion on gas-powered trucks, which consume just 8.6 miles per gallon, was deeply flawed.

The Postal Service has about 230,000 vehicles, which is about one-third of the nation’s entire federal fleet. His plan to buy gas-powered trucks would blunt President Joe Biden’s pledge to replace the federal fleet of 600,000 cars and trucks with electric and cut government carbon emissions by 65% ​​by 2030. The administration has pledged to cut US greenhouse gas emissions by nearly half. by the end of the decade and move the economy to net zero emissions by 2050.

United States Postal Service (USPS) employees load mail into delivery trucks outside a post office in Royal Oak, Michigan on August 22, 2020.

Rebecca Cook | Reuters

In February, the EPA and the White House Council on Environmental Quality urged the agency to conduct an updated, more detailed technical analysis and hold a public hearing on its plan.

However, the Postal Service later that month fulfilled a final regulatory requirement that would allow it to take delivery of the first of the new vehicles next year. The agency’s plan converts just 10% of its new trucks to electric, well below promises from Amazon and UPS, which have large fleets.

The lawsuit alleges the plan violated the National Environmental Policy Act and should be overturned. The lawsuit argues that the Postal Service’s gas-powered vehicles would prevent states from meeting their own climate change commitments.

“The Postal Service has a historic opportunity to invest in our planet and our future,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta said. said in a press release. “Instead, it doubles down on outdated technologies that are bad for our environment and bad for our communities.”

“Once this purchase is made, we will be stuck with more than 100,000 new gas-guzzling vehicles on neighborhood streets, serving homes across our state and nation, over the next 30 years,” Bonta said. “There will be no reset button.”

Despite the rise in electric vehicle sales in recent years, the transport sector is one of the biggest contributors to the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for about a third of the annual total.

Postal Service spokesman Kim Frum said the agency “conducted a rigorous and thorough review and has fully complied with all of our obligations under NEPA.”

“We must make prudent budgetary decisions in the necessary introduction of a new fleet of vehicles,” Frum wrote in an email. “We will continue to seek opportunities to responsibly increase the electrification of our delivery fleet, consistent with our operating strategy, appropriate infrastructure deployment and financial position, which we expect to continue to improve as we go along. that we will continue with our plan.”

The attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania , Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District join the State of California in the lawsuit. of Columbia, as well as New York City and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

Two separate lawsuits were filed by environmental groups CleanAirNow, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club, with legal representation from Earthjustice; and by the Natural Resources Defense Council with the United Auto Workers.