The embroiled U.S. Postal Service is again facing criticism. This time it’s a lawsuit filed by 16 states. The action claims the agency’s decision to spend $11.3 billion on gas-powered trucks in the next decade is unsound.
The states, joined by the District of Columbia, the City of New York and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, allege the agency hasn’t adequately accounted for the environmental harm of the vehicles. Environmental and labor groups filed separate suits.
With a cost of as much as $11.3 billion, the new trucks will reportedly average 8.6 miles per gallon.
Postal Service spokesperson Kim Frum said the agency “conducted a robust and thorough review and fully complied with all of our obligations under” the National Environmental Policy Act.
The Postal Service has about 230,000 vehicles, about one-third of the country’s entire federal fleet.
President Joe Biden has pledged to replace the federal fleet of 600,000 cars and trucks with electric vehicles and cut the government’s carbon emissions by 65 percent by 2030. The administration has pledged to slash U.S. greenhouse gas emissions nearly in half by the end of the decade and transition the economy to net-zero emissions by 2050.
In February, the EPA and the White House Council on Environmental Quality urged the agency to conduct an updated and more detailed technical analysis and hold a public hearing on its plan.
However, the Postal Service later that month completed a final regulatory requirement that would allow it to take delivery of the first of the new vehicles next year. The agency’s plan converts only 10% of its new trucks to electric power, far below pledges from Amazon and UPS, which have large fleets.
The lawsuit alleges the plan violated the National Environmental Policy Act and should be set aside. The suit argues the Postal Service’s gas vehicles would stop states from achieving their climate change pledges.
“The Postal Service has a historic opportunity to invest in our planet and our future,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement. “Instead, it is doubling down on outdated technologies that are bad for our environment and bad for our communities.”
The states included in the lawsuit: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia, as well as the City of New York.
Separate lawsuits were filed by CleanAirNow, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club, with legal representation from Earthjustice; and the Natural Resources Defense Council with the United Auto Workers.