Panel moves bill to scrap NEPA study of Postal Service fleet

Source: By Arianna Skibell, E&E News • Posted: Thursday, May 12, 2022

Postal fleet.

The U.S. Postal Service is working on replacing its aging vehicle fleet. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The House Oversight and Reform Committee today approved legislation to throw out a U.S. Postal Service study used to justify the agency’s decision to replace much of its aging delivery fleet with gasoline-powered vehicles.

Lawmakers voted 28-15 along party lines to bring H.R. 7682 to the House floor for full consideration. The “Ensuring an Accurate Postal Fleet Electrification Act,” introduced by Oversight and Reform Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), would invalidate the environmental impact statement USPS conducted as part of its agreement to replace as many as 165,000 delivery trucks with 90 percent gas-powered vehicles.

USPS last year signed a 10-year, $11.3 billion purchase contract with Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Defense LLC for the vehicles. The agency’s environmental impact analysis is the subject of three separate lawsuits, which contend the study violated the National Environmental Policy Act and relied on faulty data.

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“We are in the middle of a climate crisis. The Postal Service should be leading the charge to reduce carbon emissions and green its fleet,” Maloney said during the markup. “Locking itself into gas-guzzling vehicles for at least another two decades is bad for the environment, bad for our health and bad for business.”

Committee Republicans pushed back on the measure, calling it an “insult.”

“I’m honestly pretty upset about this bill,” ranking member James Comer (R-Ky.) said. “It’s not interested in wisely investing taxpayer dollars. It’s more interested in catering to the far left and its radical climate change agenda.”

Environment Subcommittee ranking member Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) offered an amendment to allow the Postal Service to move forward with its current procurement plan. The amendment failed to pass.

Maloney said the measure would negate the entire bill and criticized Republicans for greenlighting a mismanagement of federal funds.

“I am literally surprised by my Republican colleagues who call themselves strong crusaders against government waste would put forward this amendment,” she said.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has said scaling up the agency’s purchase of electric vehicles would be too expensive in both the short and long term. The agency’s environmental review also found the cost of electrification far outweighed any benefits.

White House officials, Democratic lawmakers and legal experts contend the environmental review contained grave errors that biased the agency against electric vehicles. In a Feb. 2 letter to the Postal Service, EPA called the environmental review “seriously deficient.”

The three lawsuits contend the Postal Service relied on faulty data to reach its conclusion. For example, the agency priced gasoline at $2.19 per gallon and projected the price to rise to $2.55 by 2040. Americans are paying about $4 per gallon today (Climatewire, May 2).

The lawsuits also charge that USPS violated the National Environmental Policy Act because it signed a contract with Oshkosh for the new vehicles before initiating its environmental review.

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