The U.S. Postal Service will order more than twice the number of electric vehicles initially projected for its new fleet, the agency announced Wednesday.
The move follows months of controversy after the Postal Service initially sought to make about 10 percent of its fleet electric. Now it plans to make at least 40 percent of its fleet electric.
The Postal Service said in a statement it adjusted the fleet’s Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement to include more electric vehicles under the current contract. The Postal Service is targeting a purchase of at least 25,000 electric vehicles, it said.
The Postal Service said in February that its initial order to have 10 percent of its new trucks be electric included an option to adjust the percentage later, but the announcement sparked pushback from members of Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Postal Service maintains the largest vehicle fleet in the federal government, and critics argued that not including more electric vehicles in the fleet would fly in the face of President Biden’s push for the federal government to pursue carbon neutrality.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy argued increasing the electric vehicles in the fleet was financially unfeasible, but critics suggested DeJoy, a longtime donor to Republicans and former President Trump, was deliberately undermining the Biden administration’s climate goals.
In June, the Postal Service opened the door to increasing the number of electric trucks but maintained it was always an option and was not in response to the controversy.
In March, Congress passed a Postal Service reform package freeing up billions in funds, while DeJoy has also reorganized mail carrier routes that make the charging process for delivery drivers more efficient. Also significantly, however, Biden has secured a majority of appointees on the Postal Service’s board of governors, the only entity with the power to dismiss DeJoy.
In the meantime, a coalition of environmental groups and 16 state attorneys general have sued the Postal Service over the initial order, arguing it was based on faulty data that exaggerated the cost of electric vehicle batteries. The Hill has reached out to California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D), who led the multistate lawsuit, for comment.
Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), who spearheaded the USPS reforms in the Senate, praised the Postal Service’s announcement Wednesday in statement.
“I was pleased to see that the Postal Service plans to increase their investments in more energy efficient vehicles that will help reduce the cost of operating their fleet in the long run,” he said. “I will continue to push for every part of the postal fleet to be environmentally-friendly and union-made, and will continue my oversight efforts to ensure the Postal Service can provide timely service to the American people while deploying better delivery vehicles that keep postal workers safe while on the job.”
Updated: 2:27 p.m.
Source: The Hill