Dems seek probe of USPS plan for new mail truck fleet

Matthew Daly
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are seeking an investigation into a U.S. Postal Service plan to replace its aging mail trucks with mostly gasoline-powered vehicles.

The plan largely ignores White House calls to replenish the mail-service fleet with electric vehicles and has drawn sharp criticism from the Biden administration, lawmakers and environmentalists, who say it falls short of President Joe Biden’s goals to address climate change.

In a letter Monday, Democrats on the oversight panel asked the agency’s inspector general to investigate whether the Postal Service complied with the National Environmental Policy Act and other laws when awarding a 10-year contract to Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Defense to supply up to 165,000 new mail trucks.

Only 10% of the initial order will be for EVs; the remaining 90% will use traditional gasoline-powered engines.

The Environmental Protection Agency, the White House Council on Environmental Quality and “numerous environmental stakeholders” have raised concerns that the Postal Service did not meet its NEPA obligations in issuing the contract, the lawmakers said in a letter to Tammy Whitcomb, the Postal Service inspector general.

“Given the substantial public interest in this acquisition and the significant deficiencies” in the environmental analysis identified by EPA and the White House, “it is critical that Congress understand whether the Postal Service properly met its statutory environmental obligations,” the lawmakers wrote.

The Postal Service awarded Oshkosh Defense a contract worth up to $11 billion over 10 years to replace its 230,000-vehicle fleet.

The Postal Service said last month that it believes it has met all its obligations and is moving forward despite criticism.

The new contract will deliver 5,000 electric vehicles beginning in 2023 and “provides significant environmental benefits through the introduction of safer and more environmentally friendly vehicles,” Frum said. Flexibility built into the contract allows for more electric vehicles “should additional funding become available,” she added.

An electrified fleet would save about 135 million gallons of fuel per year, said Adrian Martinez, of the environmental group Earthjustice.