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States Sue Postal Service Over New Gasoline-Powered Mail Vans

WASHINGTON — Attorneys normal from 16 states and the District of Columbia, together with 5 environmental teams and the United Auto Employees, launched a authorized problem towards america Postal Service on Thursday, claiming that it violated the legislation when it ordered hundreds of recent mail vehicles powered by gasoline as a substitute of electrical energy.

Collectively, the three lawsuits filed in two totally different federal courts elevate the stakes of a battle over the local weather impacts of the Postal Service’s iconic supply vehicles that has roiled the administration for months.

In February, a number one Home Democrat, Gerald Connolly of Virginia, referred to as for the resignation of Louis DeJoy, the postmaster normal, saying that he flouted President Biden’s executive order to affect the federal fleet by inserting an order price as much as $6 billion over 10 years for principally gasoline-powered vehicles.

The Postal Service is an impartial company that’s not sure by the administration’s local weather guidelines. It additionally owns greater than 231,000 autos, one of many largest civilian fleets on the earth. The contract could be the Postal Service’s first large-scale automobile buy in three a long time.

Environmentalists mentioned that Mr. DeJoy’s order of 165,000 gasoline-powered mail supply vehicles from Oshkosh Protection, a Wisconsin-based firm that manufactures navy autos, might harm the nation’s effort to fight local weather change. The United Auto Employees mentioned that it breaks the president’s promise to advance environmental insurance policies that can develop union jobs, because the new vehicles are anticipated to be in-built nonunion factories.

These criticisms might have political repercussions for the president, who relied on help from environmental activists and union employees to win the White Home in 2020.

However the transfer was additionally unlawful, in accordance with the court docket filings of the environmentalists, the union and the Democratic attorneys normal of California, New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois and 10 different states in addition to D.C. .

They wrote that the Postal Service violated the 1970 Nationwide Environmental Coverage Act, which required it to contemplate the environmental impacts of the automobile buy.

“As a substitute, the Postal Service first selected a producer with minimal expertise in producing electrical autos, signed a contract, and made a considerable down cost for brand new autos,” the attorneys normal wrote. “In doing so, the Postal Service did not adjust to even probably the most fundamental necessities of NEPA.”

A spokeswoman for the Postal Service, Kimberly Frum, mentioned that competition was false. “The Postal Service carried out a sturdy and thorough evaluate and absolutely complied with all of our obligations,” she wrote in an electronic mail.

Ms. Frum added that the choice to buy the gasoline-powered vehicles, moderately than costlier electrical vehicles, additionally took into consideration the monetary woes of the Postal Service, which is presently about $206.4 billion {dollars} in debt. Earlier this month, Mr. Biden signed a bipartisan legislation that can relieve a few of that debt.

“The Postal Service is absolutely dedicated to the inclusion of electrical autos as a big a part of our supply fleet though the funding will value greater than an inside combustion engine automobile. That mentioned, as we have now said repeatedly, we should make fiscally prudent selections within the wanted introduction of a brand new automobile fleet,” Ms. Frum wrote.

The Postal Service estimated that the brand new autos would get 29.9 miles per gallon. A separate evaluation by the E.P.A. discovered the autos might obtain lower than half that: simply 14.7 miles per gallon. And with the air-conditioning working, the brand new vehicles would solely get 8.6 miles per gallon, the E.P.A. mentioned.

Whereas mail supply vehicles make up a tiny fraction of the roughly 280 million autos on the highway within the U.S., environmental teams mentioned the choice to order new gasoline-powered replacements could possibly be consequential. An all-electric fleet wouldn’t solely ship environmental advantages and assist an rising manufacturing sector, but in addition function a robust image of an administration that’s decided to hurry the transition away from fossil fuels.

“As a substitute of transferring ahead with commonsense and obtainable expertise to mitigate the local weather disaster, clear up our air, and create good union jobs, USPS has determined to maintain polluting communities at a time when federal companies must be main the way in which on electrification,” mentioned Katherine García, a coverage skilled with the Sierra Membership, one of many environmental litigants.

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