USPS truck: House Oversight Committee opens investigation

USPS truck: House Oversight Committee opens investigation

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A House committee has opened an investigation into the US Postal Service’s $11.3 billion plan to buy mostly gas-powered mail delivery trucks, directing the postal agency to release confidential records of its environmental impact and costs.

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (DN.Y.), chair of the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee, told Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in a letter sent Wednesday night that his agency may have “relyed on erroneous assumptions” about the Justify purchasing a fleet where only 1 in 10 vehicles would be powered by cleaner electric energy.

The Postal Service has the largest civilian fleet in the federal government and one of the largest in the world; It’s critical to President Biden’s plan to make the entire government fleet electric by 2035.

The trucks, which the agency planned to buy from Oshkosh Defense in February 2021, fall far short of the White House’s climate targets and could cause lasting damage to the climate, federal authorities warned the Post. The agency has closely guarded records and data sources on how it selected the trucks after a competitive seven-year procurement process.

“The Oversight Committee strongly supports the purchase of electric vehicles for the Postal Service’s fleet, which will position the Postal Service as an environmental leader,” Maloney wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Washington Post. “An all-electric postal service fleet would reduce costs, increase reliability and enhance the postal service’s ability to deliver mail and packages efficiently. Electrifying the next generation of postal service vehicles is also essential to meeting the nation’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and combating climate change.”

The “next generation delivery vehicles” achieve 8.6mpg with the air conditioning on, a slight improvement of 0.4mpg over the 30-year-old trucks now in service. Regulators estimate that the NGDVs would emit about the same amount of earth-warming carbon dioxide each year as 4.3 million passenger cars hit the streets in 2023.

The Post has largely refused to voluntarily turn over records of the trucks to lawmakers, for which it has already paid nearly $3.5 billion. Maloney’s letter sets the stage for a possible Congressional subpoena to the Postal Agency later this summer, a move insiders say House Democrats have been waiting for months.

Attorneys general from 16 states plus the District of Columbia and three prominent environmental activist groups filed three separate lawsuits against the postal service in April in hopes of blocking the trucking contract. The complaints allege that the agency significantly underestimated the cost of the vehicles and the adverse environmental impact.

DeJoy said in a March interview that “the economics that my team has developed” are solid and supportive of his agency’s purchase plan, and that he supports buying more electric vehicles when Congress provides funding or when the finances of the… improve postal service.

Maloney’s letter sets May 25 as the deadline for the Postal Service to begin producing records. It also urges the agency to reiterate its operational cost and environmental analysis for procurement, develop a purchase plan that draws on its nearly $24 billion in cash to fund electric vehicles, and engage with the Department of Energy and National Laboratories of the Authority to advise to facilitate fleet electrification.

In March, the Post ordered its first 50,000 vehicles from Oshkosh, 10,019 of which would be electric. Though the EV percentage is higher than DeJoy originally pledged, the balance sheet still angered Liberal lawmakers who, just weeks earlier, had pushed for a financial restructuring of the postal service to give it flexibility for large investments.

“As we have reiterated throughout this process, our commitment to an electric fleet remains ambitious given the urgent vehicle and safety needs of our aging fleet, as well as our fragile financial position,” Postal Service spokeswoman Kimberly Frum said in an emailed statement . “The men and women of the US Postal Service have waited long enough for safer, cleaner vehicles. We are confident that considering our delivery profile, unique service requirements, employee well-being, current infrastructure conditions and financial situation, we made the best decision for the postal service in our delivery vehicle program while, like the rest of the nation, we have served the long Start journey CO2 reduction in our transport operation.”

“We will continue to make firm decisions based on our financial situation and what we can realistically achieve,” Frum added.

Transportation is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, but electric vehicles have yet to make a significant inroad into consumer markets or delivery fleets. EV advocates had hoped the postal service contract would give a boost to electric cars, which account for about 5 percent of all new car sales.

Meanwhile, the postal agency’s competitors are quickly increasing their interest in electric vehicles. Amazon, whose founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post, owns a nearly 20 percent stake in electric truck maker Rivian. UPS and FedEx have each increased their purchases of battery-powered delivery vehicles in recent years.

DeJoy said in March that it was not his agency’s responsibility to push for fleet electrification.

“As I see it, my mission is to deliver mail and packages,” he said. “The policy of electrifying the nation’s fleet is a mission I will support. But I would be remiss to spend all my money on it.”

He continued: “I think the electrification of the vehicles is a good thing. I am a supporter At this particular point in time when I placed the order, there are 10,019 specific routes that I know are a slam dunk that we will use and it will work. And that’s how I make decisions as we move forward.”

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