The 84,500 assembled trucks—which began delivering deliveries in late 2023—will go a long way toward meeting President Biden’s goal of having the entire government fleet in service by 2035. More than 217,000 Postal Service vehicles make up the largest share of federal civilian vehicles. .
With record heat waves blanketing swathes of the United States and Europe, Biden traveled to Massachusetts on Wednesday to issue an ultimatum to lawmakers: take action on the world’s deteriorating climate, or he will. The president appears ready in the coming weeks to consider declaring a national climate emergency, a move that would give him sweeping new powers to tackle rising temperatures.
“The Postal Service reiterates its commitment to the financially responsible implementation of electric-powered vehicles for America’s largest and oldest federal fleet,” the agency said in a statement.
Government regulators and environmental activists rallied to prevent the Postal Service from buying too many gas-powered trucks. The Oshkosh internal combustion engine model gets 8.6 mpg with the air conditioning turned on. That’s less than 0.5 mpg better fuel efficiency than older trucks getting ready to replace.
Regulators estimated that 150,000 gas-powered Oshkosh trucks would emit roughly the same amount of global warming carbon dioxide each year as 4.3 million passenger cars. White House officials said such emissions could cause lasting environmental damage. 16 states as well as four of the largest environmental groups in the United States filed a lawsuit to stop the contract in April.
“I think the pressure from environmental justice groups and labor unions is working,” Adrian Martinez, an attorney for Earthjustice, one of the activist groups filing the suit, told The Washington Post. “There is still more work to be done, but the initial position we had when we first met is changing.”
“I am very willing to let them grow and change,” said Porter McConnell, campaign manager for consumer rights group Take on Wall Street and co-founder of the Save the Post Office coalition.
Postmaster General Louis Dejoy, who has long been a disappointment to the Biden administration and Democrats in Congress, said in June that he would reorganize the operations of a particular agency to improve efficiency and accommodate more electric vehicles.
Postal service is centralizing mail delivery methods at major processing plants, which significantly reduces, experts say, costs associated with electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Congress in March also passed a $107 billion overhaul of the agency, freeing up money Postal leaders have long sought to improve capital. Lawmakers from both parties have specifically pointed to the agency’s need for new trucks — their fleet is now 30 years old, and have no airbags and no A/C — to keep pace with private sector investment in electric vehicles in approving the legislation.
“The only thing that has changed is that their financial situation has improved a lot,” Representative Jared Hoffman (D-Calif.), the lead sponsor of the electric mail fleet funding legislation, said in an interview. To be charitable, this could be part of the explanation. But the truth is, you don’t need billions of dollars from Congress to do the smart thing.”
“Electric cars are the future of the auto industry and that’s why I’ve been pushing the Postal Service to buy more of them as they continue to add more next-generation delivery vehicles and other vehicles to its fleet,” said Senator Gary Peters (Senator Gary Peters). D-Mich.), who chairs the Senate committee tasked with handling postal issues.
But agency leaders and even some DeJoy advisers pushed the Postal Chief for months to distance the agency from the Oshkosh deal. The contract requires a minimum purchase of 50,000 vehicles, after which the agency can open a new round of bidding for the trucks — or seek a better deal with Oshkosh — at a time when experts anticipate lower prices for electric vehicles and their expensive batteries. .
That appears to be what DeJoy has decided upon, two of these people told The Post. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the agency’s strategy.
Oshkosh stock stabilized after the announcement, up less than 1 percent in midday trading.
“The Postal Service expects to evaluate and purchase vehicles over shorter lead times to be more responsive to its evolving operational strategy, technology improvements, and changing market conditions, including the expected increased availability of BEV options in the future,” the agency said in a statement. Announcing the new purchase plan.
Oshkosh’s contract, signed in February 2021, has been widely criticized from the start. The defense contractor has never built electric cars and has told investors that the electric vehicle market is a weak point in its capabilities. Peters wrote to DeJoy within days of the announced agreement to the contract “It leaves many questions unanswered about the Postal Service’s commitment to a sustainable fleet.”
In May, the House Oversight and Reform Committee opened an investigation into the deal after President Carolyn B. Maloney (DNY) said the agency “needs to get back to the drawing board” in a purchase plan that was expected to cost $11.3 billion.
“The postal service 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 I will continue to fight to transition the entire Mail Service fleet to electric vehicles.”
Added Representative Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va), who chairs the subcommittee responsible for Postal Policies. “We still have more work to do, and Congress will continue to help advance the USPS into a modern green fleet.”
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