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Lawmakers Want Investigation of USPS Fleet Replacement Plan

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A group of five U.S. House Democrats called for an investigation Monday into the USPS decision to replace its aging fleet with mostly gas-powered vehicles.

Specifically, the group asked the USPS inspector general to check that the new fleet complied with environmental regulations laid out in next-generation vehicle contracts.

Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) introduced the idea of an investigation in a letter to the IG’s office. The others to sign the letter were Gerald Connolly, Jared Huffman, Stephen Lynch and Brenda Lawrence.

USPS Replacement Plans at a Glance

  • A group of Democratic lawmakers asked the USPS Inspector General’s office to check whether plans for a new mail truck fleet violate EPA regulations.
  • Postal agency plans to spend as much as $6 billion to replace the decades-old fleet.
  • New trucks only would average 8.6 miles a gallon.
  • 10 percent of vehicles would be electric.

“Given the potential environmental impact of the contract,” the letter said, “it is crucial that the Postal Service conduct a robust environmental analysis prior to moving forward.”

USPS announced last spring that it had reached a $6 billion deal with Oshkosh Defense to buy 150,000 mail trucks. It confirmed that decision, again, last month, saying it was moving ahead with the purchase. However, USPS also will buy 5,000 electric vehicles. The EV number could go higher if Congress provides more funds.

The USPS has kicked around the idea of replacing the fleet since 2015. Initially, agency looked at a mostly-electric fleet. But controversial postmaster Louis DeJoy announced that his agency was buying the gas-powered trucks.

Gas Mileage for New Fleet Is Slightly Higher than Very Old Trucks

The current fleet features trucks bought between 1987-94. Those vehicles get about 8.2 miles to a gallon. The new vehicles are a bit more fuel-efficient, but not by much. It’s an estimated 8.6 miles per gallon. The EPA asked for a hearing as to why the new vehicles had such low mileage averages. But USPS turned down the hearing.

A USPS spokesman said Monday that’s it commitment to “an electric fleet remains ambitious, given the pressing vehicle and safety needs of our aging fleet as well as our fragile financial condition.”

The lawmakers also asked USPS why the agency assumed that an EV truck would be “substantially higher than other electric delivery vehicles being sold to private companies.”

Both President Joe Biden and the EPA have objected to the USPS replacement plans. But DeJoy said his decision is all about money. Although automakers across the world are rolling out more EVs, DeJoy says they’re too expensive to buy.

“As we have reiterated throughout this process, our commitment to an electric fleet remains ambitious,” DeJoy said.

He said it’s imperative to replace the vehicles because of how old they are. And right now, the agency doesn’t have enough money to buy more EVs.