A Wave of Lawsuits Aims to Halt Louis DeJoy’s Gas-Guzzling Postal Fleet

USPS is “doubling down on outdated technologies that are bad for our environment and bad for our communities.”

These bad boys have been on the road since 1987, guzzling one gallon of gas every 8.2 miles, on average.Mark Hertzberg/Zuma

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The saga of the United States Postal Service’s planned gas-guzzling fleet continues.

Sixteen states and two environmental activist groups—Earthjustice and the Natural Resources Defense Council—are suing USPS to halt its purchase of a fleet of of gas-guzzling mail trucks. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has come under fire in recent months for his decision to move forward with a contract for 165,000 new postal trucks—90 percent of which would run on gas and earn 8.6 miles per gallon.

In their suit, the environmental groups point out that DeJoy did not begin an environmental review of the contract until after the Postal Service had already issued a $483 million initial payment to to Oshkosh Defense, the manufacturer of the new trucks. The Environmental Protection Agency has contended that the review itself was flawed.

“Electrifying the Postal Service fleet would reduce smog and particulate matter pollution in nearly every neighborhood in America,” the plaintiffs write. “Postal delivery routes are stop-and-go by nature, which means that gas-powered delivery vehicles idle just outside people’s homes for much of the day. This daily pollution impacts nearly every single resident in the country, but the harmful effects of this pollution are felt most significantly by low-income communities of color, which are often forced to breathe compounding sources of pollution.”

Sixteen state attorneys general filed a separate suit arguing that the USPS’s plan would hinder their own environmental goals. “The Postal Service has a historic opportunity to invest in our planet and in our future,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta, who is leading the states’ suit, said in a statement. “Instead, it is doubling down on outdated technologies that are bad for our environment and bad for our communities.”

In March, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) introduced a bill that would require the USPS to commit to a new fleet of 75 percent electric vehicles, but the proposal hasn’t moved out of committee.

“Once this purchase goes through, we’ll be stuck with more than 100,000 new gas-guzzling vehicles on neighborhood streets, serving homes across our state and across the country, for the next 30 years,” Bonta said. “We’re going to court to make sure the Postal Service complies with the law and considers more environmentally friendly alternatives before it makes this decision.”

An earlier version of this piece misstated the name of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

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