Officials said the Postal Service will spend $9.6 billion on vehicles and related infrastructure, including $3 billion in the Inflation Reduction Act, the landmark climate, health and tax bill from President Biden and congressional Democrats.
DeJoy said that by 2026, the agency expects to purchase delivery trucks with almost zero emissions. This is a huge achievement for a White House climate agenda that relies heavily on reducing greenhouse gases from vehicles.
The postal agency must replace its 30-year-old fleet of trucks that lack air conditioning, airbags and other standard safety features. They only get 8.2 mpg.
The eight-year journey to buy new vehicles has been a rough one, and political wars have marked it. White House officials threatened to block an earlier vehicle sourcing offersaying carbon-injected delivery trucks pose a lasting risk to the planet and public health.
Fleet electrification is an important pillar of Biden’s plan to combat rising global temperatures. Biden has instructed the federal government to purchase only zero-emission vehicles by 2035. With over 217,000 vehicles, the Postal Service has the largest share of the US government’s civilian fleet.
EV supporters and environmental activists said the electric mail fleet could be a big boost to the auto industry’s investment in clean vehicles.
Biden administration officials hope the Postal Service will persuade its competitors to step up their own climate commitments, many of which rely on carbon-free delivery trucks.
“I think it’s putting pressure on them to improve their game, too,” John Podesta, the White House’s senior adviser for clean energy innovation, told The Post. “If the Postal Service can act with such an aggressive plan, the public expects these companies making these long-term announcements to catch up in the near term.”
Founded by Jeff Bezos, owner of The Post, Amazon has pledged to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040 and has a close to 20 percent stake in electric truck maker Rivian. In the midst of gathering a navy of 100,000 Rivian EVs hopes to be on the road by 2030.
FedEx commits to move to carbon neutral operations by 2040 plans to fully electrify its collection and delivery fleet by then. It has pledged to buy fully electric vehicles by 2030.
UPS plans to become carbon neutral by 2050 and to use 40 percent alternative fuels by 2025.
The Postal Service will continue to purchase internal combustion engine vehicles because half of the fleet still consists of delivery vans and trucks that travel longer distances to transport mail between cities and states.
“What this does is accelerate our ability to maximize electric vehicles,” DeJoy said.
The Postal Service is restructuring its extensive mail processing and distribution network to minimize unnecessary transport and provide facilities specifically suited to electric vehicles. It will concentrate letter carriers in central locations instead of using small town post offices to take advantage of existing infrastructure and take advantage of the cost savings associated with electric vehicles.
When the Postal Service published its first vehicle replacement plan in 2021, it was set to electrify only 10 percent of the fleet. The rest would be gas-powered trucks, which could then be adapted to battery power by replacing parts under the hood – with 8.6 mpg fuel economy with the A/C running. However, postal officials quickly abandoned this strategy due to costs and technical complexity.
Democrats in Congress, government officials and environmental activists were infuriated. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have sued to block the 10 percent electricity plan, as have some of the nation’s leading environmental groups.
Podesta said she confronted DeJoy about her agency’s plans when the two started talking in September. By then, the Postal Service said 40 percent of its new trucks will be EVs.
“I told him I thought the original plans were completely inadequate,” Podesta said, describing the talks as candid and purposeful. “I just think we think it’s critical to our success and overall. [climate change] program. So we stuck to it, we pushed it, it pushed it back and we pushed it back.
DeJoy said Podesta was “insightful” and helped the postal agency resolve chronic budget issues.
“Our mission is to deliver mail to 163 million addresses first, and I want to do that to the extent that we can align with other agencies and the president’s other missions,” DeJoy said.
Some of the postmaster’s fiercest critics praised the announcement. Attorney Adrian Martinez, who is leading the lawsuit against the agency over the supply of vehicles at climate activist group Earthjustice, described the new truck purchase plan as “a major change in the federal fleet”.
“Within a year, we moved from the USPS’s plan to purchase trucks with the fuel economy of a Hummer in the late 1990s to the visionary commitment to modernize mail delivery in the United States with electric trucks,” he said. We are grateful to the Biden administration for stepping in to put us on an electrified future course.”
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