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Lawmakers want answers; claim new USPS trucks will get 8.6 mpg

The trucks in the pending first new United States Postal Service vehicle fleet in 30 years haven’t been driven. But they continue to be stuck before they start and the problem appears worse.

The problem, percolating for months, now could include an investigation into a decision by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to purchase up to 165,000 gasoline-powered mail trucks over the Biden administration’s objections.

The pending new USPS trucks area again stuck in controversy.
The pending new USPS trucks are again stuck in controversy.

In a letter to Inspector General Tammy Whitcomb, lawmakers called for an investigation. They’re questioning whether the Postal Service had complied with a law requiring environmental reviews of major federal actions.

Further, the lawmakers believe the multibillion-dollar contract would undermine the nation’s climate goals.

The contract, worth up to $6 billion over 10 years, would be the first new USPS trucks purchased in three decades.

Both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the White House Council on Environmental Quality have said the Postal Service made the wrong decision to buy gasoline-powered trucks based on a flawed environmental analysis.

According to a report in The New York Times, the Postal Service estimated the new vehicles would get 29.9 miles per gallon. A separate analysis by the EPA found the vehicles could achieve less than half that—14.7 miles per gallon. With the air-conditioning running, the new trucks would only get 8.6 miles per gallon, the EPA said.

The agency reported the review did not consider any feasible alternatives to gas-powered vehicles and that the USPS issued a contract for the vehicles before even completing its flawed review.

The Times further reported that Carolyn Maloney, the chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and other Democrats on the panel asked Ms. Whitcomb to determine if the Postal Service made “inaccurate or unproven assumptions” about the environmental impact of combustion engine vehicles, including underestimating their greenhouse gas emissions.

“Postal vehicles serve a public purpose—helping to deliver the mail six days a week across the United States—and must do so in an environmentally sound manner,” the lawmakers wrote.

President Biden has ordered all federal agencies to phase out the purchase of gasoline-powered vehicles and buy only zero-emissions cars and trucks by 2035 as part of his agenda to speed the transition away from fossil fuels and tackle climate change. The USPS is an independent agency not bound by the administration’s climate rules.

The Postal Service owns more than 231,000 vehicles, one of the largest civilian fleets in the world. The distinctive white, red and blue trucks roam the country from congested cities to quiet rural towns.

An all-electric fleet would not only deliver environmental benefits and help an emerging manufacturing sector, but also serve as a powerful symbol of an administration that is determined to speed the transition away from fossil fuels.

The Postal Service said it can’t afford an all-electric fleet and that 10 percent of the new trucks would be electric while 90 percent would be gasoline-powered.

Sue Brennan, a spokeswoman for the Postal Service, said in a statement the agency is committed to electrifying its fleet and said it will “continue to pursue the acquisition” of additional electric vehicles as its financial position improves.

The Build Back Better Act, Mr. Biden’s centerpiece legislative agenda, includes about $6 billion to help the Postal Service pay for electric vehicles and charging stations. That bill is stalled in Congress.

Environmental groups and other government agencies have called the Postal Service’s decision flawed, saying it relies on unrealistic assumptions—like gasoline at $2.19 a gallon. That’s well below the $4.33 average gas price Americans are currently paying in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but it is also far lower than the average pump price before the war.

Congress earlier this month approved a $107 billion financial overhaul of the Postal Service, and it currently is awaiting Mr. Biden’s signature. Neither the House nor Senate version, both of which passed with broad bipartisan support, included amendments that would force a change in the agency’s truck contract.

RELATED CONTENT

Future of USPS delivery truck going postal again

New USPS “duck truck” will deliver safely and in style 

New mail trucks don’t deliver, EPA calls for investigation

James Raia, a syndicated columnist in Sacramento, California, publishes a free weekly automotive podcast and electronic newsletter. Sign-ups are available on his website, www.theweeklydriver.com. He can be reached via email: james@jamesraia.com.

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Chris
5 months ago

Excuse me. “That’s well below the $4.33 average gas price Americans are currently paying in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but it is also far lower than the average pump price before the war”

The gas has been going up since January of 2021. “

Vincee
6 months ago

Mr. Raia’s statement is entirely false regarding the average high price is the effect of the Russia-Ukraine war. Everyone knows except perhaps Left Coasters the administration has been at war against the oil and gas industry since day one in office.

Jesse
6 months ago

Toyota Prius gets 60 mpg in the (stop & go) city…keep the platform and replace the top cosmetic body with this one?

David Barber
6 months ago

Congress never gave a second thought to spending trillions before, why do they care now? Nancy, Joe, Chuck, and over five hundred others will never stop spending nonexistent money.

Edward Spiess
6 months ago

Electric forklifts stop and start for 16 hours straight. How come we can’t build a mail truck off that platform to go 8 hours. Battery life is reasonable too.

C Botner
6 months ago

While an interesting story, why is it in a newsletter focused on RVing?

Vincee
6 months ago
Reply to  C Botner

Brilliant point!

Kill it with Fire
6 months ago

Any word yet on who made the massive purchase of Oshkosh stock just hours before their win of this contract was announced? It was more stock than Oshkosh normally trades in an entire day. You’d think there’d be a record of who bought it.

Follow the money trail and I think you will find the real culprit, probably starts with “De” and ends with “Joy”……

BILLY Bob Thronton
6 months ago

SEC has jurisdiction. Congressional members are exempt, so they can profit if there was insider information.

Thomas D
6 months ago

Is anyone aware of how mail delivery works? In my neighborhood they go 10 ft, stop, go 2ft, stop go 200 feet stop, go 10 feet and stop. How does a vehicle get any millage under those conditions. We are 12 miles from the post office. The mailman starts there and works his/ her way out. Our subdivision is at the end of the route. If someone was serious about saving money, why dont they split the city up and deliver every other day. No one needs delivery every day
And after just spending $971 for golf cart batteries that only lasted 3years, I’m not too wild about electric cars.

Snayte
6 months ago
Reply to  Thomas D

I agree with cutting mail delivery. Heck make it one day a week just like my trash collection. Just make sure it is the day before trash pickup so I do not need to hold the junk mail longer than necessary. 😉

Doug
6 months ago

Ànd thus the reason to drive up the price of gas. It’s all in the gangrene new deal plan to make it painful for everyone at the pump for the ‘short term’ to justify these enormous spending bills.
Every study will now be based on new inflated prices of gas with no substantive rational to the cost of a new infrastructure to support an EV society.
RVers should really be looking at a homemade structure to permanently park your vehicle to avoid the pump. Welcome to the utopian/ socialist trailer park.

Scott
6 months ago
Reply to  Doug

There is a HUGE hole in the electric vehicle argument that just seems to slide off of the loudest supports of these vehicles. This coming from someone who would be willing to drive one IF this is addressed. Your electric plug in car does not get its electricity from alternative sources of power…coal fired and gas fired plants are the majority of energy used to produce this stuff that comes out of the wall plug and our power grid can not support a mass transition to this form of transportation currently. So before you shout from the roof tops about the evils of gas/ diesel powered vehicles, think out the whole picture

Richard
6 months ago

How about natural gas…clean,less than gas, got plenty of it. Buses ,trucks use a lot of it now..

Roger Marble
6 months ago
Reply to  Richard

We have a fleet of CNG buses running in our area. No problems have been reported. The fueling stations are at the “Bus Garage” so no new “gas stations” were required. Lower cost, lower emissions.

captain gort
6 months ago

Go hybrid! No brainer Perhaps even plug-in hybrid.
Contract Toyota to design & build them.
Base them on the super-reliable Prius platform.
But NOT all-electric!

Bob M
6 months ago

Thanks for this article, it’s good to know about things. The statement that these would be first new USPS trucks purchased in three decades is false. I see our mailmen with new vans delivering mail. I agree hybrids would be the way to go. Then gradually go to electric vehicles as technology improves and the power grid can handle it. In Australia when I visited my cousin. Mailmen used mopeds and junk mail was delivered by someone else.

The Lazy Q
6 months ago

With the ugly profile of the duck truck I’m surprised it would get that much but then again they idle more than drive so it’s understandable. As for the laughable build back better more like destroy backwards best…amazing how quickly our once great nation has fallen in such a short period of time. I feel like I’m on “smile, you’re on candid camera”…when does the show end?

Roger Marble
6 months ago
Reply to  The Lazy Q

You make a good point. Electric vehicles consume no power when “idling”. We need to remember that DeJoy has a personal financial interest in the USPS failing, else why destroy $millions of fully functioning automatic sorting machines?

Sharon
6 months ago

As a retired letter carrier, I would like to explain the low gas mileage. If you have ever noticed mail delivery, the carrier literally drives from mailbox to mailbox. It is “city driving “ at it’s worst. Every day I drove 33 miles, and it took me approximately 6 hours to do so. A gas vehicle under these circumstances will never get good mileage. Right now the cost of electric vehicles would be prohibitive for the Postal Service. Not only for the cost of the trucks themselves, but installing charging stations. Maybe hybrid vehicles could be considered.

Duane R
6 months ago
Reply to  Sharon

Sharon, you can’t post here anymore. 1) You have experience in the subject, 2) You clearly state your experience-based opinion, 3) You clearly state the obvious that our elected politicians ignore (“…cost of electric vehicles would be prohibitive…”), and finally 4) You stated another obvious, but overlooked by politicians, fact: cost of charging station installation.

You didn’t do any name-calling, and you made very relevant observations and comment. That offends some people. 😀

Dane Smith
6 months ago
Reply to  Duane R

Perfect response Duane

Mike Schwab
6 months ago
Reply to  Sharon

Regenerative braking where an electric motor / generator recovers the energy of the moving vehicle instead of heating the brakes is perfect for Stop and Go driving like this. At least electric hybrid or pure electric. And why not have a bunch of chargers at the Post Office. Use them for Postal vehicles overnight and public charging stations at other times. Maybe postal on one side and public on the other, with the postal vehicle getting less current since they will be there several hours while the public vehicle wants to be done in 1 hour.

Robin Pack
6 months ago

the push for everything electric, battery powered= green planet…what a joke!!!

Vickie L McClellan Benson
6 months ago
Reply to  Robin Pack

I agree. Obviously, these people have no idea how and from what sources electric batteries are made. Not to mention what to do with the toxic things once they expire. Idiots rule and it isn’t funny.

Ron
6 months ago

Corruption at its finest. Fire LaJoy.

Bruce
6 months ago
Reply to  Ron

Follow the money and you’ll see stock purchases by some of these officials with the builders. They’re too stupid to negotiate building small group of prototypes and test them in the real world to get data. Then do basis sensitivity analysis to factor in what the data looks like with swings in the price of gas which given their agenda they know is going to occur. Need a fleet of clown cars for this cabinet. My Ram towing in the mountains does better than these will

Carol
6 months ago
Reply to  Bruce

The current postmaster general was appointed by Trump.

Jim Prideaux
6 months ago

Another study needed. 29.9 vs 14.7, half that with AC. Remember these are not cars cruising down the interstate. Stop and go at every mailbox on the street is not going to get good gas mileage. AC will be a killer with constant opening an closing of doors. Electrics are the future, step up the conversion. Interesting article but what does it have to do with RVs?

G13
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Prideaux

Last sentence was my comment here, what the heck does it have to do with RVs?

Leon
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Prideaux

How about fuel prices for rv travelers Duh?

Dave
6 months ago

physical mail is a thing of the past. If it is a valuable service, a public company can pick it up. If someone thinks it is so valuable for public good, a non profit will pick it up. How will companies send ads? Perhaps right on the side of this window.

MevetS
6 months ago

No doubt that the USPS pulled a fast one. They are just another arm of the Government that is accountable to no one.

But the belief that a vehicle without an exhaust pipe, is by definition “clean” is absurd to anyone but the biggest acolyte. The acolytes like to ignore the cradle to grave impact of their choices. And by all means rely on Government assessments for your impartial information.

Tom H
6 months ago

I continue to be amazed but not surprised that we the tax payers bail the USPS out every year. The USPS is an independent entity as was pointed out in the article, “The USPS is an independent agency not bound by the administration’s climate rules.” yet we bail them out. The last paragraph speaks to a delayed congressional bill that would provide a $107 billion overhaul of the USPS financial system. I think its time we look for another mail system and end this drain on the tax payers.

Mike
6 months ago
Reply to  Tom H

The single thing hurting the USPS the most is a bill passed by Congress in 2006.

I have enclosed a link to provide information on it.

“Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act – Wikipedia” https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postal_Accountability_and_Enhancement_Act#:~:text=It%20reorganized%20the%20Postal%20Rate,six%20days%20of%20the%20week.

As far as replacing the carrier vehicles, the vast majority of them were purchased back in the early 1990’s.

A vehicle based on the Toyota RAV4 PRIME would be the best direction for them to go.
It is a plug in hybrid with a 14.5 gallon fuel tank. The electric battery provides up to 42 miles before needing the gas engine to engage.

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