The pending new U.S. Postal Service mail trucks, manufactured by Oshkosh Defense, are stuck in neutral—again.
After years of negotiation, the U.S Postal Service and Oshkosh Defense reached an estimated $6 billion contract in 2021. But it’s now being questioned by the Environmental Protection Agency.
A letter this week complains about the poor fuel economy of the proposed mail truck replacement and urges the Postal Service to “not proceed to a decision.”
According to reports, the move is considered a push by the Biden administration to reallocate the projected $6 billion replacement cost of the Postal Service’s fleet toward new vehicles that offer significant improvement in fuel economy and air quality.
The letter argues the current Oshkosh Defense deal does not satisfy the requirements.
The EPA claims the Oshkosh replacement vehicle only offers a “0.4-mile-per-gallon fuel economy improvement over the agency’s current fleet.”
The current fleet is 30 years old and lacks basic niceties such as air conditioning. The letter also complains only 10 percent of the new vehicle fleet is contracted to be fully electric.
According to the Washington Post: “The new, gas-powered trucks would be air-conditioned—much to the delight of letter carriers nationwide—but with the air conditioning running, they would average just 8.6 mpg.”
Electric vehicle experts said the industry standard for a gasoline-powered fleet vehicle is between 12 and 14 mpg.
The EPA also claims the acquisition process that awarded Oshkosh the Postal Service deal was seriously flawed.
More than a dozen major complaints were outlined in the lengthy letter, including:
- The deal did not follow the appropriate process outlined by the National Environmental Policy Act and was awarded prior to the review process outlined by NEPA;
- The Postal Service “executed a contract, including the award of $482 million, before any analysis of the environmental impacts of the project as required by NEPA,”;
- The contract’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) left out critical information and underestimated greenhouse gas emissions from its new ICE vehicles, while overestimating emissions from BEVs [battery electric vehicles], compared to EPA analysis which was provided to the Postal Service.
- The Postal Service’s analysis showed nearly 95 percent of mail carrier routes could be electrified, but only allocated 10 percent of electrified vehicles.
The Washington Post reports the EPA has been facing pressure to block the Postal Service’s allocation for weeks but opted not to go through the federal government to challenge the proposal, at least so far.
The letter is an open call to the Postal Service, which operates independently of Biden’s executive branch of the government, to reconsider its current deal, with the implication that the funding is now in jeopardy.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has rebuffed previous calls for the agency to rethink its plans.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.