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USPS to buy four times as many electric mail trucks as previously announced

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The US Postal Service on Wednesday pledged to electrify at least 40 percent of its new delivery fleet, in a move hailed by climate change activists as a major step towards reducing the government’s environmental footprint.

The Postal Service was to purchase 165,000 vehicles from Oshkosh Defense, of which 10 percent were to be electric under the original procurement plan. It will now purchase 50,000 trucks from Oshkosh, half of which will be electric vehicles, plus another 34,500 vehicles for sale, 40% of which will be electric.

A total of 84,500 trucks, with deliveries starting in late 2023, will go a long way toward achieving President Biden’s goal of converting the entire state fleet of electric vehicles by 2035. Over 217,000 Postal Service vehicles make up the largest proportion of federal civilian vehicles.

With record heat waves sweeping across the US and Europe, Biden traveled to Massachusetts on Wednesday to issue an ultimatum to lawmakers: take action on the world’s worsening climate, or he will. The President appears poised to consider declaring a national climate emergency in the coming weeks, a move that will give him sweeping new powers to tackle rising temperatures.

“The Postal Service reaffirms its commitment to the financially responsible deployment of electric vehicles for America’s largest and oldest federal fleet,” the agency said in a statement.

Government regulators and environmental activists have teamed up to stop the Postal Service from buying so many gas-powered trucks. The Oshkosh internal combustion engine gets 8.6 mpg with the A/C running. That’s less than 0.5 mpg better than the older trucks they’re willing to replace.

Regulators have calculated that Oshkosh’s 150,000 gas-powered trucks will emit about the same amount of earth-warming carbon dioxide annually as 4.3 million passenger cars. White House officials said such emissions could cause irreversible environmental damage. In April, 16 states plus four leading US environmental groups sued to end the contract.

16 states DC climate activists sued USPS to block truck purchase

“I think the pressure from environmental justice groups, the unions, is working,” Adrian Martinez, an attorney for Earthjustice, one of the activist groups that filed the lawsuit, told The Washington Post. “There is still some work to be done, but the initial attitude we had when we first met is changing.”

“I really want them to grow and change,” said Porter McConnell, campaign manager for consumer advocacy group Take on Wall Street and co-founder of the Save the Post Office coalition.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who has long been an opponent of the Biden administration and congressional Democrats, said in June that he will reorganize some of the agency’s operations to increase efficiency and accommodate more electric vehicles.

The postal service is the process of centralizing mail delivery routes at large processing plants, which experts say greatly reduces the costs associated with electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Congress also approved a $107 billion overhaul of the agency in March, freeing up money that Postal executives have long sought for capital improvements. Lawmakers from both parties specifically pointed to the agency’s need for new trucks — its fleet is 30 years old and has no airbags or air conditioning — to keep up with private-sector investment in electric vehicles as legislation passes.

Senate Approves $107 Billion USPS Overhaul Praising the Postal Agency’s Role in Pandemic Response

“The only thing that has changed is that their financial situation has improved a lot,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA), lead sponsor of the email fleet funding legislation, said in an interview. “To be merciful, that might be part of the explanation. But the truth is, you don’t need billions of dollars from Congress to do the smart thing.”

“Electric vehicles are the future of the automotive industry and that’s why I’ve been pushing for the Postal Service to buy more of these vehicles as they continue to add to their fleet of next generation delivery vehicles and other vehicles,” said Senator Gary Peters. ). Michigan), which chairs the Senate Postal Committee.

But agency executives, and even some of DeJoy’s advisers, have been pushing the postmaster for months to force the agency to back out of the Oshkosh deal. The contract required a minimum purchase of 50,000 vehicles, after which the agency could open a new round of bidding for trucks or look for a better deal with Oshkosh at a time when prices for electric vehicles and their expensive batteries are predicted to drop. .

That seems to be what DeJoy decided, two of the people told The Post. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the agency’s strategy.

Oshkosh shares were unchanged after the announcement, rising less than 1% in the middle of the day.

“The Postal Service expects vehicle evaluations and purchases over shorter periods of time to better respond to its changing operating strategy, technology improvements and changing market conditions, including an expected increase in the availability of BEV options in the future,” the agency said in a statement. announcement of a new procurement plan.

The contract with Oshkosh, signed in February 2021, was widely criticized from the very beginning. The defense contractor has never made electric vehicles and told investors that the electric vehicle market represents a weak spot in its capabilities. Peters wrote to DeJoy days after the agreement was announced that the contract “leaves many questions about the Postal Service’s commitment to a sustainable fleet unanswered.”

The House Oversight and Reform Committee launched an investigation into the deal in May after Chair Carolyn B. Maloney (DN.Y.) said the agency “needs to get back to the drawing board” on a plan to buy, which is projected to cost $11 .3 billion dollars. .

House of Representatives Investigates USPS Plan to Purchase 8.6 MPG Trucks

“Our postal fleet of the future must be clean, affordable and electric,” Maloney said in a statement Wednesday. “This is the fleet the American people deserve. I am pleased with this progress, but will continue to fight for the Postal Service fleet to be fully electric.”

“Investing in legacy technology never made sense, and I’m glad the Postmaster General is belatedly coming to that common sense,” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Virginia), chairman of the subcommittee in charge of Postal Services. politics. “We still have a lot of work to do, and Congress will continue to help the USPS build a modern green fleet.”

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