A group of U.S. lawmakers penned a letter to the United States Postal Service (USPS), calling for it to ramp up its efforts to electrify the nation's mail delivery fleet. U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety and U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, led several other senators in the November 21 letter. They asked Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and USPS Board of Governors Chair Roman Martinez to dramatically increase mail delivery fleet electrification efforts.
The Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDV), produced by OshKosh Defense, are expected to roughly triple reductions in greenhouse gas emissions compared to a fleet that is only 10% electric, according to the legislators' letter. In August, a study conducted by the University of Michigan was released, with researchers finding the greenhouse gas emissions reductions may be even greater.
Funding has long been the USPS's reason for not furthering its electrification efforts. The Postal Service generally receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products, and services to fund its operations.
Earlier this year, the Postal Service announced its plan to acquire up to 165,000 NGDVs, with at least 10% of them being battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and the rest being internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. The plan was meant to be flexible to allow the USPS to add more BEVs if funding became available. Government Fleet previously reported that the Biden Administration and other groups pushed back, calling on a higher amount of BEVs to be included in the mix. The USPS then announced its initial purchase of 50,000 NGDVs from Oshkosh Defense, with 20% of them being BEVs.
In June, the USPS announced it was publishing a Notice of Intent to supplement its environmental impact statement (EIS) after accounting for expected changes following a recently announced plan to improve its delivery network. The following month, the USPS announced at least 50% of the initial 50,000 NGDVs it purchased will be BEVs. The new vehicles are expected to start servicing postal routes in late 2023.
In their letter to the USPS, lawmakers pointed to the additional $3 billion in funds from the Inflation Reduction Act that were allocated to the agency's investment in BEV's and supporting infrastructure. The group called on the Postal Service to make a commitment to increase its fleet electrification commitment to 95% from 40%, leveraging the additional funding provided through the Inflation Reduction Act, "to not simply meet its previous commitment, but rather to make further progress towards a more ambitious benchmark." The lawmakers also urged the USPS to ensure the manufacturing workers producing the mail delivery vehicles have an opportunity to collectively bargain and join a union.
The $3 billion allocation is significant, because in the USPS's original environmental impact statement, released in December 2021, the agency noted that moving to an entirely electric procurement policy would come at a price tag of up to $3.3 billion higher than the USPS’s recommended fleet mix.
Government Fleet reached out to the Postal Service for a comment on the lawmakers' letter. A spokesperson said the agency is reviewing the letter and will respond directly to the members of Congress. Their response went on to say that the Postal Service "commits to evaluate vehicle mix and purchase capability in shorter intervals as technology evolves and the organization’s financial and operational picture improve. We remain committed to reducing our carbon footprint in many areas of our operations and expanding the use of EV’s in our fleet is a priority within the parameters mentioned."
At the most recent Postal Service Board of Governors Meeting, DeJoy mentioned the aging delivery vehicles, saying in part, "We still face significant losses, our carriers still drive 30-year-old vehicles, our plants and post offices still have significant deferred maintenance and are not aligned for the intended mission and our technology and business processes need to be brought into the modern era."
Last December, President Joe Biden issued an executive order asking the U.S. government to buy only EVs for the federal fleet by 2035. While the USPS was exempt from the order, a spokesperson has previously told Government Fleet that the Postal Service hopes to follow the same precedent.