Today, the postal service issued a record of decision for a controversial procurement plan to replace large portions of the U.S. postal fleet with a polluting and fuel-guzzling new truck model. Environmental groups reacted with ire to the federal government’s costly mistake and missed opportunity to electrify the fleet, which would deliver clean air and climate protections in the middle of a spiraling climate crisis. Reversing course on this procurement plan and electrifying the new mail trucks would prevent the government from burning 110 million gallons of fuel a year.
“DeJoy’s plans for the postal fleet will drag us back decades with a truck model that gets laughable fuel economy. We may as well deliver the mail with hummers,” said Adrian Martinez, senior attorney on Earthjustice’s Right to Zero campaign. “DeJoy’s environmental review is rickety, founded on suspect calculations, and fails to meet the standards of the law. We’re not done fighting this reckless decision.”
The postal service plans to purchase up to 165,000 vehicles, replacing a large swath of its fleet of over 200,000 trucks with a new model that gets a harrowing mileage of 8.6 mpg with the air conditioning on. Ninety percent of the new trucks would be combustion vehicles that get worse miles per gallon than a Ford F-150, and just 10% would be zero emissions, electric trucks.
The new combustion model gets worse mileage than the 1988 Grumman postal truck model when new, and is designed to weigh just one pound over the threshold that would have subjected it to more efficient light-duty vehicle standards. On February 7, the Environmental Protection Agency sent a short letter to the postal service pointing out that its modeling for greenhouse gas emissions from the new combustion mail truck was wildly off, and based on a vehicle that gets two to three times better mileage.
If the government were to instead invest in electric mail trucks, the country would avoid burning 110 million gallons of fuel every year.
The postal service’s fleet makes up a third of the country’s entire federal fleet. In January 2021, President Biden issued an executive order to electrify the federal fleet “including vehicles of the United States Postal Service,” and committed to planning that would spur “the creation of union jobs in the manufacture of those new vehicles.” But the new postal truck model is not slated to be built by American workers with good union jobs. Instead, it appears to be allowing this program to be implemented with non-union labor in South Carolina, sparking opposition from the United Auto Workers, one of the largest unions in the country.
Under the National Environmental Policy Act, federal entities must analyze the consequences of their actions before making them. Here, the Postal Service did a deeply flawed analysis too late. In addition, the postal service has thus far avoided holding public hearings on the plans, and says it is rejecting the comments from over 20,000 members of the public who commented on the final plan through Earthjustice’s action portal.
Read the Earthjustice article from Adrian Martinez, “You’ve Got Mail — and Clean Air”