Postmaster General Louis DeJoy defended the Postal Service’s plan to replace the vast majority of its aging vehicle fleet with gas-powered trucks – rather than electric vehicles – saying on Tuesday that USPS needs to balance its commitment to an electric fleet with “our dire financial condition.”
His defense comes as the Postal Service faces criticism over its plan to stick with gas. The White House and Environmental Protection Agency blasted the Postal Service in letters last week that said the plan was not consistent with the country’s climate goals.
At a board meeting Tuesday, DeJoy said USPS is conducting an environmental review of its plan, which includes an initial order of 5,000 electric vehicles, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.
DeJoy underscored USPS is “committed to completing the NEPA process,” but added that “we are compelled to act prudently in the interest of the American public.”
“However, that responsibility should not be mistaken for an ambivalent commitment to operating a cleaner postal vehicle fleet for our country. As with everything else we now do, we will be resolute in making decisions that are grounded in our financial situation and what we can realistically achieve,” DeJoy said.
Under the current USPS plan, overseen by the Trump-era DeJoy, only 10% of its next generation delivery vehicles, or NGDVs, will be electric, with the other 90% being gas-powered trucks.
DeJoy said the plan “builds in flexibility to increase the number of electric vehicles should additional funding become available from internal generation through profitable operations or through congressional appropriations should Congress decide to fund this initiative as a matter of public policy.”
“But we cannot at this time count on additional funding,” DeJoy added, pointing to the Postal Service’s concerns about the cost of electric vehicles and building out electric infrastructure.
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.
Despite criticism of USPS’ plan, the embattled postmaster general said Tuesday “this level of commitment to an electric fleet in our proposed action is frankly ambitious given the pressing vehicle and safety needs of our aging fleet and our dire financial condition.”
During the board meeting, DeJoy also touched on how the Postal Service is working with the Biden administration to distribute Covid-19 test kits across the US.
“Tens of millions of test kits have been delivered throughout the nation,” he said, adding USPS is “proud” to work with its federal partners “in this major effort to protect the American people.”