16 States Sue USPS over Plans to Purchase Gas-Powered Delivery Vans

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is facing a class lawsuit from 16 states over plans to purchase gas-powered delivery vans.  The 16 states with Democratic attorneys-general claim the decision of USPS to acquire 165,000 mail trucks over the next 10 years violates the regulations provided by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for environmental safety.

Filed at the US District Court for the Northern District of California, the lawsuit alleged that the USPS erred in signing a contract to buy 10% electric vehicles and 90% internal combustion engine vehicles. The states also condemn the federal postal agency for ordering vehicles that run 8.6 MPG even when existing vans to be faced outrun 8.2 MPG. But USPS said this is not true, since the ordered vehicles run 14.7 MPG when the air-conditioning is turned off.

The initial order of 50,000 mail trucks costing $2.98 billion will include 10,000 battery-electric vehicles (BEV), the postal agency countered. Defense company Oshkosh Defense LLC has been contracted to supply the vehicles, while Grumman was hired to supply the existing truck fleet, which is about 20 years old.

But the 16 states contend  that USPS “violated well-established legal precedent prohibiting ‘an irreversible and irretrievable commitment of resources’ before completing the NEPA process by signing contracts with a defense company to procure vehicles six months before even releasing its draft environmental review and a year prior to issuing the Final Environmental Impact Statement (‘Final EIS’) and Record of Decision.”

The lawsuit also alleged that the postal service failed to adequately evaluate the environmental impacts of its proposed newer trucks in terms of air quality, climate benefits, gas prices, technical infrastructure, and vehicular performances. The contenders said the agency did not guarantee the scientific integrity of its planned action to ensure environmental justice and national interests.

Given that a $50 billion rescue package was approved by Congress for USPS recently, a service spokesperson said overhauling the entire mail van fleet requires “fiscally prudent decisions”. The representative said, “The postal service is fully committed to the inclusion of electric vehicles as a significant part of our delivery fleet, even though the investment will cost more than an internal combustion engine vehicle.”

The states filing the USPS lawsuit are California, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington state, Washington, DC, and the city of New York.