House Dems urge Biden to back plan for all-electric USPS fleet
- By Chris Riotta
- May 11, 2021
Image credit: Eric Glenn/Shutterstock.com
House Democrats are urging the White House to support an $8 billion taxpayer-funded proposal that would allow the United States Postal Service to move towards an all-electric delivery fleet far sooner than the plan Postmaster General Louis DeJoy unveiled earlier this year.
In a letter sent to President Joe Biden on Tuesday, more than 50 lawmakers suggested the funding was critical to support his executive order issued in January, which called for a comprehensive plan to transition the entire federal fleet to all electric and zero-emission vehicles. A similar letter was also sent to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
"There has never been a more critical time to ensure that all federal vehicles produce zero emissions, including the over 228,000 delivery vehicles operated by the Postal Service," the Democrats wrote, led by committee chairs Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) of Oversight and Reform and Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.) of Transportation. "The Postal Service simply cannot afford to lock in another 25 years of reliance on primarily fossil fuel delivery vehicles—to do so would be short sighted and fiscally disastrous for the already struggling agency, which has lost $69 billion over the last 11 years."
The request for support detailed legislative stipulations lawmakers planned to attach to the funding, including a mandate requiring that at least 75% of the new fleet must be zero emission. Under the proposal, the USPS would also be required to purchase electric or zero-emission vehicles exclusively after 2040.
Lawmakers called for the president's "continued leadership" on the issue after Postmaster DeJoy detailed the agency's plan to purchase nearly 165,000 new trucks over the next decade as part of its Next Generation Delivery Vehicle (NGDV) program. That plan featured far less restrictive measures when it came to acquiring a new delivery fleet, calling for just 10% of new vehicles to be electric.
The Postal Service announced in February it had tapped Oshkosh Defense to build the modernized fleet of trucks, a plan worth an estimated $6 billion. In detailing the proposal to lawmakers, Postmaster DeJoy said the agency could not currently afford a more expansive investment in an all-electric fleet as the infrastructure to support electric vehicles would add $2 billion to the initiative.
"Although the NGDV will provide much needed modernization of the delivery fleet, unfortunately, this fleet will not be fully electric," the lawmakers wrote on Tuesday, saying the lack of investment in electric vehicles would "add another 25 years of unacceptable emissions at a time when the world is rightly moving away from combustion engines."
With more than 228,000 vehicles operating across the country, the Postal Services owns one of the largest civilian fleets in the world. The Postal Service spent a reported $491 million on fuel costs in 2019, and spends an estimated $2 billion in vehicle maintenance annually. The majority of vehicles employed by the USPS are meanwhile decades old, with lawmakers noting more than 140,000 trucks were still operating despite reaching the end of their 24-year operational lifespan. Those trucks typically average 10 miles per gallon.
Chris Riotta is a staff writer at FCW covering government procurement and technology policy. Chris joined FCW after covering U.S. politics for three years at The Independent. He earned his master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where he served as 2021 class president.