The controversial decision of the US Postal Service is coming to court.
Disputes have been brewing for months: a plan to purchase 148,000 petrol-powered cars was published in February, despite concerns from the Biden administration, which has already set goals to electrify the entire federal car fleet over the next 13 years.
“This contract was supposed to be the biggest contract for new trucks in 30 years, so it was just a huge expense,” said Catherine Garcia, director of Sierra Club’s Clean Transport for All. “The fact that the vast majority of trucks will be trucks with internal combustion engines just shocked us.”
In March, the USPS announced its plan to order 50,000 new “next-generation vehicles,” of which at least 10,019 will be battery-powered electric vehicles. Meanwhile, the version of these internal combustion cars will have fuel savings of only about 8.6 miles per gallon, which is unlikely to be an improvement over 8.2 miles per gallon of current gas trucks on the streets. While the fleet of 10,019 electric vehicles is an improvement over the original estimate of about 5,000, it is still insufficient for many advocacy groups and more than a dozen states.
On Thursday, April 28, three separate lawsuits were filed alleging that the USPS used erroneous or misleading information to come up with an environmental review for new cars. Even the Environmental Protection Agency and the White House Council on Environmental Quality have identified serious problems with environmental research –in particular, they forecast gasoline prices at around $ 2.19 per gallon increase by only $ 0.36, bringing the price to $ 2.55 by 2040. $ 4.20 per gallon in the US.
In addition, Washington Post reports that the postal service signed a contract for $ 11.3 billion and paid millions of dollars even before the completion of the environmental analysis. Even with their own miscalculations, the new fleet will consume 109,770,855 gallons of gasoline a year – nearly doubling greenhouse gas emissions and, in some cases, triple the air pollution of a fully electric fleet, says Britt Carman, a senior attorney. in the NRDC team on clean cars and fuel.
“The postal service’s plan to purchase thousands of burning fire trucks will not only deliver pollution to all parts of America, but is also illegal,” said Adrian Martinez, senior attorney for Earthjustice’s Right to Zero. said in a release. «[Postmaster general Louis] DeJoy’s environmental process was so shaky and error-prone that it did not meet the core standards of the National Environmental Policy Act. We will go to court to protect the millions of Americans who breathe in areas congested with contaminated exhaust pipes. ”
Many activists say this is also a problem of environmental justice, arguing that emissions can have a greater impact on low-income colored communities that already suffer disproportionately from transport air pollution.
“The postal service’s decision will only exacerbate these inequalities in air quality, rather than take the opportunity to help alleviate air pollution,” Karman says.
Beta Luga Martinez, CEO of CleanAirNow, a group suing the USPS, saw this inequality in action. In his hometown of Kansas City, there are 22-year differences in life expectancy in different areas that could potentially be linked to asthma and other health conditions resulting from “years of breathing toxic transport pollution,” he says.
Martinez argues that the postal service is in an ideal position for electrification – the technology is there, vehicles don’t drive long distances, which facilitates some “alarm range” that has blocked the expansion of electric cars, and switching to electric would be more. cheaper than gas. One study published last summer showed that electrifying the USPS fleet could save about $ 4 billion by about 2030.
Not to mention that other delivery services, namely FedEx, UPS and Amazon, are already starting to do big strides towards electrifying their fleet. “It simply came to our notice then [the USPS] I can’t get there, ”says Martinez.
“We need to focus on the health of those most affected, really making sure that it brings additional benefits to those communities left behind,” he adds. “We don’t want the pollution delivered by mail.”