USPS leadership shifted from committing to only 5% electric vehicles at the outset of the project to 62% as of their last announcement; this is certainly movement, but it’s far from the 95% that experts recommended.
For as much as we’ve heard Postmaster General Louis DeJoy talk about the need for “dramatic change” at U.S. Postal Service when it comes to the more disruptive elements of his 10-year plan, he has consistently resisted modernizing the postal fleet to reflect the market shift to electric vehicles. His own words just don’t seem to apply to the long overdue shift from gas guzzlers with the fuel efficiency of a Hummer to a climate-friendly 95% electric fleet built by 100% union labor.
USPS recently released its latest draft supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) for Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDV) Acquisitions ahead of a public hearing Wednesday, July 26. This latest draft SEIS is the post office’s second attempt at an environmental impact statement after their first one projected gas prices to be $2 a gallon less in the future and deployed other ludicrous math to make the case for combustible vehicles, only to be sued by several different parties for their wildly inaccurate claims. Due to immense public pressure and some close White House hand-holding over the course of last year, USPS leadership shifted from committing to only 5% electric vehicles at the outset of the project to 62% as of their last announcement.
This is certainly movement, but it’s far from the 95% that experts recommended and that is closer in line with private sector carriers’ plans. Even the Postal Service’s own Inspector General has concluded that at least 95% of postal routes could be serviced by electric vehicles. The IG found that zero-emissions electric trucks would be cheaper for the USPS over the full life cycle of the fleet–costing less to buy, fuel, and maintain than conventional fossil fuel-powered vehicles.
The increase to 62% did not come easily from DeJoy, either: There were a string of lawsuits and consistent calls from the community alongside climate and labor groups. As the Save the Post Office Coalition pointed out in a June 30 statement, this latest draft SEIS “is disappointing, particularly as it comes out of last summer’s hearing where USPS heard loud and clear from postal workers and communities in an overwhelming majority of public comments calling for a union-built, all-electric fleet. Frontline Black and Brown communities are being poisoned by heavy trucks with combustion engines, and mail carriers who drive postal trucks are particularly affected from vehicle idling which releases high levels of localized air pollution.”
Media outlets gave DeJoy a favorable reception last December for USPS’s third move towards a larger share of EVs, even though it falls 33% short of where it needs to be. It is important to note that the current EV commitment is not 75% of the entire fleet as reported; it is only the purpose-built NGDVs—when including all vehicles including commercial off-the-shelf ones, the total share of the fleet that’s electric is just 62%.
This saga has demonstrated again that Louis DeJoy is more focused on short-term cost-cutting than long-term smart solutions for USPS’s future. DeJoy’s leadership approach was to dig his heels in, rather than look to the future, and this is dangerous. National climate priorities have particular urgency right now when the force of extreme weather is causing so much havoc and loss. But it’s also just fundamentally at odds with what the people want for their most treasured public institution: a healthy USPS that changes with the times. Louis DeJoy is proving once again that he’s not able to deliver that.