The U.S.P.S. once prided itself in an unofficial motto: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
But for the past several years, the agency can’t even get new vehicles built to try to efficiently get job done.
The pending new contract with by Oshkosh Defense to replace a 30-plus-year-old fleet is in neutral — again.
After years of negotiation, the U.S. Postal Service and Oshkosh Defense reached at estimated $6 billion negotiation, but it’s now being questioned by the Environmental Protection Agency.
New U.S.P.S. Trucks Face Scrutiny
A letter this week complains about the poor fuel economy of the proposed mail truck replacement and urges the Postal Service to “not proceed to a decision.”
According to reports, the move is considered a push by the Biden administration to reallocate the projected $6 billion replacement cost of the Postal Service’s fleet toward new vehicles that offer more significant improvement in fuel economy and air quality.
The the letter argues the current Oshkosh Defense deal does not satisfy.
U.S.P.S. Called Out For New Trucks’ Woes
The EPA claims the Oshkosh replacement vehicle only offers a “0.4-mile-per-gallon fuel economy improvement over the agency’s current fleet.”
The current fleet is 30 years old and lacks such basic niceties such as air conditioning. The letter also complains only 10 percent of the new vehicle fleet is contracted to be fully electric.
According, to the Washington Post: “The new, gas-powered trucks would be air-conditioned—much to the delight of letter carriers nationwide—but with the air conditioning running, they would average just 8.6 mpg.
Electric vehicle experts said the industry standard for a gasoline-powered fleet vehicle is between 12 and 14 mpg. ”
The EPA also claims the acquisition process that awarded Oshkosh the Postal Service deal was seriously flawed.
More than a dozen major complaints were outlined in the lengthy letter, including:
* The deal did not follow the appropriate process outlined by the National Environmental Policy Act and was awarded prior to the review process outlined by NEPA;
* The Postal Service “executed a contract, including the award of $482 million, before any analysis of the environmental impacts of the project as required by NEPA,”;
* The contract’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) left out critical information and underestimated greenhouse gas emissions from its new ICE vehicles, while overestimating emissions from BEVs, compared to EPA analysis which was provided to the Postal Service.
* The Postal Service’s own analysis showed nearly 95-percent of mail carrier routes could be electrified, but only allocated 10-percent of electrified vehicles.
The Washington Post reports the EPA has been facing pressure to block the Postal Service’s allocation for weeks, but opted not to go through the federal government to challenge the proposal, at least so far.
The letter is an open call to the Postal Service, which operates independently of Biden’s executive branch of the government, to reconsider its current deal, with the implication that the funding is now in jeopardy.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy might reject their requests has rebuffed previous calls for the agency to rethink its plans.
Article Last Updated: February 20, 2022.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.