States Sue Postal Service Over New Gas-Powered Mail Trucks

WASHINGTON — Attorneys normal from 16 states and the District of Columbia, together with 5 environmental teams and the United Auto Employees launched a authorized problem in opposition to the USA Postal Service on Thursday, claiming that it violated the regulation when it ordered hundreds of latest mail vehicles powered by gasoline as a substitute of electrical energy.

Collectively, the three lawsuits elevate the stakes of a battle over the local weather impacts of the Postal Service’s iconic supply vehicles that has roiled the administration for months.

In February, a number one Home Democrat, Gerald Connolly of Virginia, referred to as for the resignation of Louis DeJoy, the postmaster normal, saying that he flouted President Biden’s govt order to affect the federal fleet by inserting an order price as much as $6 billion over 10 years for largely gasoline-powered vehicles.

The Postal Service is an impartial company that isn’t certain by the administration’s local weather guidelines. It additionally owns greater than 231,000 autos, one of many largest civilian fleets on the earth. The contract could be the Postal Service’s first large-scale car buy in three a long time.

Environmentalists mentioned that Mr. DeJoy’s order of 165,000 gasoline-powered mail supply vehicles from Oshkosh Protection, a Wisconsin-based firm that manufactures navy autos, might harm the nation’s effort to fight local weather change. The United Auto Employees mentioned that it breaks the president’s promise to advance environmental insurance policies that can develop union jobs, because the new vehicles are anticipated to be in-built nonunion factories.

These criticisms might have political repercussions for the President, who relied on assist from environmental activists and union staff to win the White Home in 2020.

However the Democratic attorneys normal of California, New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois and 10 different states in addition to D.C. mentioned that the transfer was additionally unlawful.

The attorneys normal wrote that the Postal Service violated the 1970 Nationwide Environmental Coverage Act, which required it to contemplate the environmental impacts of the car buy.

“As a substitute, the Postal Service first selected a producer with minimal expertise in producing electrical autos, signed a contract, and made a considerable down cost for brand spanking new autos,” the attorneys normal wrote. “In doing so, the Postal Service didn’t adjust to even essentially the most primary necessities of NEPA.”

A spokeswoman for the Postal Service, Kimberly Frum, mentioned that competition was false. “The Postal Service performed a strong and thorough evaluate and absolutely complied with all of our obligations,” she wrote in an e mail.

Ms. Frum added that the choice to buy the gasoline-powered vehicles, fairly than costlier electrical vehicles, additionally took under consideration the monetary woes of the Postal Service, which is at present about $206.4 billion {dollars} in debt. Earlier this month, Mr. Biden signed a bipartisan regulation that can relieve a few of that debt.

“The Postal Service is absolutely dedicated to the inclusion of electrical autos as a major a part of our supply fleet though the funding will price greater than an inner combustion engine car. That mentioned, as we now have acknowledged repeatedly, we should make fiscally prudent choices within the wanted introduction of a brand new car fleet,” Ms. Frum wrote.

The Postal Service estimated that the brand new autos would get 29.9 miles per gallon. A separate evaluation by the E.P.A. discovered the autos might obtain lower than half that: simply 14.7 miles per gallon. And with the air-conditioning operating, the brand new vehicles would solely get 8.6 miles per gallon, the E.P.A. mentioned.

Whereas mail supply vehicles make up a tiny fraction of the roughly 280 million autos on the street within the U.S., environmental teams mentioned the choice to order new gasoline-powered replacements may very well be consequential. An all-electric fleet wouldn’t solely ship environmental advantages and assist an rising manufacturing sector, but in addition function a strong image of an administration that’s decided to hurry the transition away from fossil fuels.

“As a substitute of shifting ahead with common sense and obtainable know-how to mitigate the local weather disaster, clear up our air, and create good union jobs, USPS has determined to maintain polluting communities at a time when federal businesses ought to be main the way in which on electrification,” mentioned Katherine García, a coverage skilled with the Sierra Membership, one of many environmental litigants.

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