USPS Reaches Gas Truck Deal, Rejects Call for Electric Vehicles | Nation

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service has finalized a contract to replace its fleet of mail trucks with new Oshkosh Corp. models, nearly all gas-powered, after the Biden administration pushed unsuccessfully to buy more electric vehicles.

The move, announced in a Record of Decision released Wednesday, upholds the independent agency’s decision to move forward with a disputed plan to begin purchasing up to 165,000 mail trucks over the next 10 coming years. According to the plan, up to 90% of them will run on gasoline instead of climate-friendly batteries.

The decision allows the agency to begin purchasing gas-powered trucks from Wisconsin military truck maker Oshkosh Corp. under a $6 billion contract awarded last February. The Postal Service rejected an offer from young electric vehicle specialist Workhorse Group Inc. and resisted pressure from Biden administration officials to increase purchases of electric vehicles beyond its projected 10% baseline.

Oshkosh fell 1% to $107.13 at 10:28 a.m. in New York. The stock is down 5% this year, compared to a nearly 10% drop in the S&P 500. Workhorse fell 3.6% and fell 1.3% to $2.99. The stock has lost almost a third of its value since the start of the year.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy defended the decision, stressing that fleet replacement is urgent while reiterating that the agency will purchase additional battery-electric vehicles as additional funds become available.

“Our commitment to an electric fleet remains ambitious given the pressing vehicle and safety needs of our aging fleet as well as our fragile financial situation,” DeJoy said in a press release. “The process must keep moving forward. The men and women of the U.S. Postal Service have waited long enough for safer, cleaner vehicles.”

But permission is unlikely to be the last word in the matter.

Environmental groups are preparing to immediately challenge the decision in federal court, arguing that the Postal Service illegally justifies its decision with a fundamentally flawed analysis of the purchase plan that underestimates greenhouse gas emissions, relies on wrong economic assumptions and does not consider alternatives.

“The U.S. Postal Service’s ill-informed and costly decision will lock Americans into a gas-powered mail delivery system for generations to come,” said the Zero Emission Transportation Association, which represents electric vehicle makers such as Rivian Automotive, Inc. and Electrical. utilities such as NRG Energy, Inc., said in a statement. “This decision directly reverses federal regulations and our international commitments — and President Biden’s executive order to electrify the federal fleet.”

Although the Biden administration has limited authority over the Postal Service because it is an independent agency, federal courts have found that the USPS is still bound by the National Environmental Policy Act which requires an analysis of major policy decisions. And federal courts have previously struck down government leases sold to private companies after finding that analysis to be lacking.

The USPS is “playing a very high-stakes game” by “going against what the law requires,” Adrian Martinez, an attorney for environmental group Earthjustice, said ahead of the announcement.

The Postal Service said its approach is the best because it will ensure the agency has a “purpose-built right-hand-drive vehicle capable of meeting the performance, safety and ergonomic requirements for carrier deliveries.” effective at business and residential curbside mailboxes across the national system”.

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