The Postal Service will spend $9.6 billion on vehicles and associated infrastructure, officials said, including $3 billion from the Cut Inflation Act, President Biden and the landmark Inflation Act. climate, health care and tax congressional Democrats.
By 2026, the agency plans to purchase almost exclusively zero-emission delivery trucks, DeJoy said. It’s a major accomplishment for a White House climate program that relies heavily on reducing greenhouse gases from vehicles.
The postal agency needs to replace its fleet of 30-year-old trucks, which lack air conditioning, airbags and other standard safety features. They only get 8.2 mpg.
USPS trucks do not have air bags or air conditioning. They get 10 mpg. And they were revolutionary.
The eight-year journey to procure new vehicles has been arduous and marked by political battles. White House officials have threatened to block a previous proposal to buy vehicles, saying carbon-spewing delivery trucks pose an ongoing risk to the planet and public health.
Fleet electrification is a major pillar of Biden’s plan to combat rising global temperatures. Biden has ordered the federal government to purchase only zero-emission vehicles by 2035. With more than 217,000 vehicles, the Postal Service owns the largest share of the U.S. government’s civilian fleet.
Electric vehicle boosters and environmental activists said an electric postal fleet could be a major lever for the auto industry’s investment in clean vehicles.
Biden administration officials hope that will persuade the Postal Service’s competitors to accelerate their own climate commitments, many of which rely on carbon-free delivery trucks.
“I think it also puts pressure on them to up their game,” John Podesta, White House senior adviser on clean energy innovation, told The Post. “If the Postal Service can come out with this kind of aggressive plan, the public expects those companies that made these long-term announcements to make up for it in the short term.”
Amazon, whose founder Jeff Bezos owns The Post, has pledged to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040 and has a nearly 20% stake in electric truck maker Rivian. He is amassing an armada of 100,000 Rivian electric vehicles that he hopes to have on the road by 2030.
FedEx has committed to carbon neutral operations by 2040 with plans to fully electrify its pickup and delivery fleet by then. He promised to buy all-electric vehicles by 2030.
UPS plans to become carbon neutral by 2050 and use 40% alternative fuels by 2025.
The Postal Service will continue to purchase internal combustion engine vehicles, as half of the fleet still consists of vans and delivery trucks that travel longer distances to transport mail between cities and states.
“What it does is accelerate our ability to maximize electric vehicles,” DeJoy said.
The Postal Service is restructuring its extensive mail processing and delivery network to minimize unnecessary transportation and install facilities specifically for electric vehicles. It will concentrate mail carriers in centralized locations rather than using small town post offices to take advantage of existing infrastructure and cost savings associated with electric vehicles.
Biden’s zero-emissions government fleet starts with USPS
When the Postal Service released its first vehicle replacement plan in 2021, it was planned to make just 10% of the fleet electric. The rest would have been petrol trucks – with fuel economy of 8.6 mpg with the air conditioning running – which could later be adapted to battery power by swapping parts under the hood. But the postal authorities quickly abandoned this strategy due to cost and technical complexity.
Democrats in Congress, state officials and environmental activists were furious. Sixteen states, plus the District of Columbia, have sued to block the 10% electric plan, as have some of the nation’s leading environmental groups.
Podesta said he confronted DeJoy about his agency’s plans when the two started talking in September. By then, the Postal Service said 40% of its new trucks will be electric vehicles.
“I told him that I thought the initial plans were completely inadequate,” said Podesta, who described the conversations as friendly and helpful. “I just think we thought it was critical to our success and the whole [climate change] program. So we stayed with him, pushed him, he pushed back and we pushed back.
DeJoy said Podesta was “responsive” and helped solve the postal agency’s chronic budget problems.
“Our mission is to deliver mail to 163 million addresses first, and to the extent that we can align with other missions from other agencies and the president, I want to do that,” DeJoy said.
Some of the postmaster’s fiercest critics hailed the announcement. Adrian Martinez, a lawyer for the climate activist group Earthjustice, which is taking the agency to court over its vehicle purchase, called the new truck purchase plan a “step change in the federal fleet.”
“In the space of a year, we’ve gone from a USPS plan of buying trucks with the fuel economy of a late 1990s Hummer to a visionary commitment to modernizing mail delivery to United States with electric trucks,” he said. “We are grateful to the Biden administration for stepping in to put us on the path to an electric future.”
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