Ah, the new U.S. Postal Service mail trucks. They’re really just the gift that keeps on giving. It seems the new trucks that get dogshit gas mileage (something we’ve extensively documented) have now landed the USPS in some legal trouble.
Sixteen states, Washington D.C., the UAW, and environmental activist groups are suing the Postal Service. It’s in an effort to block the already-approved purchase of 148,000 new mail trucks from Oshkosh Defense. According to the Washington Post, the groups alleged that the USPS greatly underestimated how much the vehicles are going to cost and what sort of ecological impact they’ll have.
The suits brought by the state attorneys general, Earthjustice and the Natural Resources Defense Council contend that the mail service relied on faulty assumptions and miscalculations to justify spending as much as $11.3 billion on gas-powered vehicles that get 8.6 mpg, which is only incrementally better than the 30-year-old vehicles now in use.
Postal officials hoped the truck procurement would go smoothly and signal that the mail agency was evolving to meet new business opportunities and joust with its private-sector rivals. But the agency’s purchase plan would have only 10 percent of the new fleet dedicated to electric power, well below benchmarks set by FedEx, UPS and Amazon. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
Transportation is the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, but electric vehicles have yet to make significant inroads. EV proponents had hoped the Postal Service contract would provide a lift for electric automobiles, which account for about 5 percent of all new-vehicle purchases.
Postal Service spokeswoman Kim Frum, in an emailed statement, said the agency “conducted a robust and thorough review and fully complied with all of our obligations under [environmental law].”
They report the USPS began studying the environmental impact of the vehicles after paying Oshkosh $482 million to begin production.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy played the agencies first order for 50,000 truck in March 2022. WaPo reports that 10,019 of those vehicles would be electric, which is about double his original commitment.
“The Postal Service has a historic opportunity to invest in our planet and in our future. Instead, it is doubling down on outdated technologies that are bad for our environment and bad for our communities,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D), whose office is leading the states’ case in the Northern District of California.
The real rub comes from the fact that when doing it’s spending calculations, the USPS projected fuel prices to be at $2.19 per gallon… which is just about $2 less than the actual US average. That’ll definitely throw a wrench in any plans.
In response to that discrepancy, DeJoy said, “that’s the math that we are going with.” It’s certainly a choice.