The White House and Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday blasted the US Postal Service for its decision to replace the vast majority of its aging vehicle fleet with gas-powered trucks, rather than electric vehicles.
A top House lawmaker is calling for Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s resignation over the issue, though the Postal Service says it hasn’t been allocated sufficient funding for the more expensive vehicles.
Under the current USPS plan, overseen by the Trump-appointed DeJoy, only 10% of its next generation delivery vehicles, or NGDVs, will be electric, with the other 90% being gas-powered trucks.
In a letter, EPA Associate Administrator Vicki Arroyo said that USPS’s decision was “inconsistent” with clean-energy policies at state, federal, and international levels.
Arroyo also called the plan a “crucial lost opportunity to more rapidly reduce the carbon footprint of one of the largest government fleets in the world.”
“Because this is the single largest federal vehicle procurement in the foreseeable future and these investments are long-lived, a fully informed Postal Service NGDV decision on this unparalleled opportunity for the federal government to lead by example on climate and clean energy innovation is essential,” Arroyo wrote.
White House Council of Environmental Quality chair Brenda Mallory also penned a letter to DeJoy, and noted USPS conducted its environmental analysis after it had already issued its contract for the next generation of vehicles.
“The agency committed to walk down a path before looking to see where that path was leading,” Mallory wrote.
The Washington Post first reported on the letters.
Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat who chairs the House subcommittee that oversees the Postal Service, called for DeJoy’s resignation.
“Postmaster General DeJoy’s plan to spend billions on brand new gas-powered vehicles is in direct contradiction to the stated goals of Congress and the President to eliminate emissions from the federal fleet,” Connolly said in a statement. “If Mr. DeJoy won’t resign, the Board of Governors has got to fire him – now.”
In a statement, Postal Service spokesperson Kim Frum said “the Postal Service has repeatedly consulted with EPA and carefully considered and responded to all of its comments.”
Frum cited high costs as a reason for the Postal Service’s decision to pursue gas-powered vehicles as it replaces its fleet.
“While we can understand why some who are not responsible for the financial sustainability of the Postal Service might prefer that we acquire more electric vehicles, the law requires us to be self-sufficient,” Frum said.
There is $6 billion in President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act to help the USPS transition to all-electric vehicles; however, this bill has stalled in the Senate.
Frum added the Postal Service is willing to add more EVs to its fleet “if a solution can be found to do so that is not financially detrimental.”
In her letter, Mallory added that since EPA has now identified the ways it believes the Postal Service’s environmental analysis is flawed, USPS must improve its environmental review in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.
“If it does not do so, Congress or the Federal courts may compel USPS to alter course,” Mallory wrote.