U.S. Postal Service vehicles are pictured in Pennsylvania

Three United States Postal Service mail trucks are parked in front of a post office in Danville, Pennsylvania on July 20, 2022. (Photo: Paul Weaver/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

'Message Delivered': After Months of Pressure, Postal Service Vows to Ramp Up EV Purchases

"The Postal Service's shift to only purchasing electric mail trucks within five years is the marker of a sea change in the federal fleet as the country looks to an electric future," said one climate advocate.

Climate campaigners welcomed the U.S. Postal Service's announcement Tuesday that it plans to buy at least 66,000 electric vehicles in the coming years to replace its aging, gas-guzzling fleet, a move that comes after months of pressure from environmental groups and the Biden White House.

In a statement, the USPS--led by scandal-plagued Postmaster General Louis DeJoy--said at least 45,000 of the 60,000 next-generation delivery vehicles (NGDV) it intends to purchase from Oshkosh Defense by 2028 will be electric. The postal agency added that it also plans to buy "an additional 21,000 battery-electric delivery vehicles through 2028, representing a mix of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) vehicles."

"Every neighborhood, every household in America deserves to have electric USPS trucks delivering clean air with their mail."

The USPS said 100% of the NGDV purchases delivered in 2026 and beyond are expected to be electric and promised to continue exploring the "feasibility of achieving 100% electrification for the overall Postal Service delivery vehicle fleet."

The Washington Postreported that "the Postal Service will continue buying internal combustion engine vehicles because half of the fleet still consists of delivery vans and trucks that travel longer distances to ferry mail between cities and states."

Nevertheless, advocates who have been sharply critical of DeJoy's handling of new vehicle procurement plans applauded the USPS announcement Tuesday as a significant step in the right direction.

Katherine Garcia of the Sierra Club, one of several environmental groups that sued the U.S. Postal Service in April over its previous plan to replace its dilapidated fleet with mostly gas-powered trucks, said Tuesday that "finally we're seeing the commonsense decision to move the government's largest fleet of vehicles to all-electric, a massive win for climate and public health."

"Instead of receiving pollution with their daily mail packages, communities across the U.S. will get the relief of cleaner air," said Garcia. "The way we get to a 100% electric fleet matters--these vehicles must be union-built and made with materials from a clean supply chain."

The mail agency's new vehicle plan represents a dramatic shift from its original proposal earlier this year. Under that plan, as the climate group Earthjustice explained Tuesday, "90% of the new trucks would be combustion vehicles with a worse fuel economy than a gas-powered Ford F-150 and worse mileage than the 1988 Grumman postal truck model when new."

"In the course of a year we've gone from a USPS plan to buy trucks with the fuel economy of a late 1990s Hummer to a visionary commitment to modernize mail delivery in the United States with electric trucks," Adrian Martinez, an attorney with Earthjustice, said in a statement. "We're grateful to the Biden administration for stepping in to put us on course for an electric future."

"Every neighborhood, every household in America deserves to have electric USPS trucks delivering clean air with their mail, and today's announcement takes us almost all the way there," said Martinez. "The Postal Service's shift to only purchasing electric mail trucks within five years is the marker of a sea change in the federal fleet as the country looks to an electric future."

Given that the transportation sector is one of the largest sources of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution, the Postal Service's shift toward electrification could have major implications for President Joe Biden's push to cut the country's emissions by at least 50% by 2030.

Earlier this year, the Biden Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) criticized the Postal Service's original plan to replace its delivery fleet with largely gas-powered trucks, warning that the USPS failed to "consider more environmentally protective feasible alternatives."

"The Postal Service's proposal as currently crafted represents a crucial lost opportunity to more rapidly reduce the carbon footprint of one of the largest government fleets in the world," Vicki Arroyo, associate administrator of policy for the EPA, wrote in a February letter.

Brenda Mallory, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, celebrated the newly revealed plan as important progress, saying in a statement that "neighborhoods will see cleaner air, better health, and good-paying clean energy jobs" as a result.

"The U.S. Postal Service plan sets the pace for other leading public and private sector fleets," said Mallory. "It is clear that the future of transportation is electric--and that future is here."

Democratic lawmakers also welcomed the new plan.

"If there's ever an important use for electric vehicles, it's vehicles like mail trucks that start and stop every house," tweeted Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). "Glad to see USPS take action I've been pushing for to replace gas-guzzling mail trucks (seriously, they get 8.2 MPG)."

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