WASHINGTON — A senior House Democrat on Wednesday called on Louis DeJoy, the postmaster general to resign, to resign, saying he had dismissed President Biden’s plan to electrify the federal fleet. by placing billions of dollars worth of orders for primarily gasoline-powered vehicles.
Representative Gerald Connolly, a Virginia Democrat who heads the House subcommittee that oversees the U.S. Postal Service, called the move to invest in more gas-powered trucks as “poultry antiquity” and is a threat to governments’ ability to deal with climate change.
“The average age of the postal team is 30 years,” said Mr. Connolly. “They are spewing pollution and they are sucking in air. There’s no question that we have to replace our fleet, and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take electric vehicle technology to the next level with the second-largest fleet in the US. ”
“If we miss this opportunity, it will prevent the full thrust of the electric vehicle agenda,” he said.
The Post Office owns more than 231,000 vehicles, making it one of the largest civilian fleets in the world. Distinctive red, white and blue vans roam the country from crowded cities to quiet rural towns. An all-electric fleet will not only benefit the environment and help an emerging manufacturing sector, but also be a powerful symbol of an administration determined to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels. jelly.
Mr. Connolly called for an oversight hearing to review the contract between the government and Oshkosh Defense, a Wisconsin-based company that makes military vehicles.
This order for up to 165,000 trucks will be the Post Office’s first large-scale vehicle purchase in three decades, according to a statement from Oshkosh Defense.
Both the Environmental Protection Agency and the White House Council on Environmental Quality wrote to Mr. DeJoy on Wednesday to say that the Postal Service made the wrong decision to buy a gasoline-powered truck based on an analysis. flawed environment.
The letters also said the Post Office had improperly committed more than $480 million to start engineering and construction before the flawed environmental review was even completed.
Vicki Arroyo, EPA’s director of policy, writes: “The now-lost Postal Service proposal represents a vital lost opportunity to more rapidly reduce the carbon footprint of one of its own fleets of ships. government in the world. The agency letter was first reported by The Washington Post.
Kim Frum, a spokesman for the Post Office, said the agency was reviewing letters from environmental agencies.
Frum said the post office is “fully responsive” to the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires agencies to consider the environmental consequences before taking major actions. She said the concerns raised by the White House and EPA stem from “disagreements over policy” and not the analysis itself.
“While we can understand why some people who are not responsible for the Post Office’s financial sustainability might prefer us to buy more electric vehicles, the law requires us to be self-sufficient,” she said. Frum wrote in a statement. “For that reason, given our current financial condition, our total cost of delivery fleet ownership should be part of our analysis.”
Ms. Frum said the Post Office wants to speed up the electrification of its fleet, subject to funding. She did not respond to MPs’ calls for Mr DeJoy to step down.
President Biden has called on federal agencies to phase out the purchase of gasoline-powered cars and by 2035 to buy only zero-emissions cars and trucks. But in February last year, the Post Office said it could not afford to provide a fleet of all-electric vehicles, and that 10% of the new trucks would run on electricity while 90% would run on gasoline. The EPA estimates the climate damage caused by the new fleet at $900 million.
“This goes directly against the goals set by both Congress and the president of having a zero-emissions federal fleet,” Mr. Connolly said. He called the contract a “huge example” of why he felt Mr DeJoy should step down.
“I’d love for him to step down and if he doesn’t, I want the board to fire him,” Mr. Connolly said.
Currently, electric vehicles make up about 1.5% of the government’s fleet. In fiscal year 2021, the administration purchased 650 electric vehicles, a number that it hopes will double this year and beyond, according to the administration. The government buys about 50,000 vehicles a year, many of which are replacement vehicles.
Understand the latest news on climate change
The Post Office is an independent agency and is not bound by the government’s new climate rules.
On Wednesday, a White House official said the administration still intends to push the Postal Service to electrify its fleet.
The service currently owes about $206.4 billion, and the House of Representatives is poised to ease that burden with a sweeping postal reform bill that is expected to be put on the floor for a vote in the coming weeks. next week.
Mr. Connolly said he would support an amendment that invalidates trucking contracts or forces the post office to buy electric vehicles. However, he also noted that the postal reform law took 12 years to negotiate and is now supported by a “fragile” bipartisan coalition he is not willing to upset.
“I don’t want a Pyrrhic victory on this issue, where it would knock down the entire bill,” he said.
Mr. Connolly said he and other Democrats would also seek other routes including introducing independent legislation on the matter or using the appropriation process to switch the Postal Service.
The Better Rebuilding Act, Mr. Biden’s key legislative program, includes about $6 billion to help the post office pay for electric cars and charging stations. That bill stalled in Congress.
Mr. DeJoy, a Republican donor and former business executive appointed by former President Donald J. Trump, has been mired in argumentative exceeded cost-cutting measures that were faulty slow mailing in the 2020 election, when many voters plan to vote by mail, as well as delays in delivery of drugs and bills.
Mr. DeJoy proposed a 10-year plan that would raise some prices and slow down service in an effort to recoup billions of expected losses.
The Postmaster-General can only be removed by the Postal Service’s nine-member board of governors, who are appointed by the president. Democrats in Congress and liberal groups have sought to replace Mr. DeJoy since he took office in June 2020, and they have urged Mr. Biden to add more Democrats to the council. administrators who could overthrow him.
In November, Mr. Biden nominates two new members, Dan Tangherlini, a Democrat and former head of the General Services Administration, and Derek Kan, a Republican and former deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. If confirmed by the Senate, they will replace two outgoing members who have expired and were once allies of Mr. DeJoy. By law, no more than five members can belong to the same party.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/02/climate/postal-service-trucks-electric-climate.html The Post Office Is Buying Gasoline Trucks, Despite Biden’s Climate Order