By Paul LeBlanc, CNN
Attorneys general from 16 states and the District of Columbia and a coalition of environmental groups are suing the US Postal Service in an effort to stop the purchase of thousands of gasoline-powered trucks.
The lawsuits allege that the USPS erred in its decision to replace its current fleet with 90% gas-powered trucks and 10% battery electric vehicles, and call for a more fulsome review of the environmental impacts such a move would have.
Despite objections from the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has said repeatedly that the Postal Service doesn’t have the funding to increase the number of electric vehicles in its fleet.
Both the attorneys general suit and another from Earthjustice, CleanAirNow KC, the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity were filed in the Northern District of California. A third lawsuit from the Natural Resources Defense Council and the United Auto Workers was filed in the Southern District of New York.
“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 Instead, it is doubling down on outdated technologies that are bad for our environment and bad for our communities,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement Thursday.
“Once this purchase goes through, we’ll be stuck with more than 100,000 new gas-guzzling vehicles on neighborhood streets, serving homes across our state and across the country, for the next 30 years. There won’t be a reset button.”
Adrian Martinez, an attorney on Earthjustice’s “Right to Zero” campaign, expressed similar concern. “We’re going to court to protect the millions of Americans breathing in neighborhoods overburdened with tailpipe pollution. Mail delivery in this country should be electric for our health and for our future,” he said.
When the USPS first unveiled its next-generation delivery vehicle last year, the precise mix between electric vehicles and internal combustion engines had not been set. At the time, environmental groups criticized the inclusion of internal combustion engines at all.
That scrutiny was amplified when DeJoy cited the USPS’ “dire financial condition” as reason to replace the vast majority of its aging vehicle fleet with gas-powered trucks.
Postal Service spokesperson Kim Frum told CNN in a statement Thursday that the agency had conducted “a robust and thorough review” before moving forward with its vehicle plan, and that more electric vehicles could be commissioned if additional funding becomes available.
“The Postal Service is fully committed to the inclusion of electric vehicles as a significant part of our delivery fleet even though the investment will cost more than an internal combustion engine vehicle. That said, as we have stated repeatedly, we must make fiscally prudent decisions in the needed introduction of a new vehicle fleet,” Frum said. “We will continue to look for opportunities to increase the electrification of our delivery fleet in a responsible manner, consistent with our operating strategy, the deployment of appropriate infrastructure, and our financial condition, which we expect to continue to improve as we pursue our plan.”
There is $6 billion in President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act to help the USPS transition to all-electric vehicles, but the bill has stalled in the Senate.
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