Biden officials at the Environmental Protection Agency pushed the Postal Service to fully electrify its fleet Wednesday, after USPS put forth a plan to only electrify 10% of its fleet and replace the rest with gas-powered vehicles. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a holdover from the Trump administration, signed the contract for mostly gas-powered vehicles because he says electrification would be too expensive.
The push comes a little over a month after the USPS published an Environmental Impact Statement that looked at the costs and benefits of electrifying its entire fleet compared to the 10% option. Among other considerations in the various scenarios were the cost to build out charging infrastructure. The EPA, in pushing DeJoy to reconsider, criticized the agency for only looking at 10% electrification or 100% electrification, and for only analyzing infrastructure that is in its nascent stages.
The agency told the USPS to perform a more technically rigorous analysis and hold a public hearing on its plans. The Postal Service rejected a similar request from California regulators last week.
Even if the USPS were to stick with its existing analysis, fully electrifying the fleet would only cost $3.3 billion more than electrifying just 10%. That might sound like a high number, but in comparison to the Postal Service’s already $11.6 billion plan to electrify just 10% of vehicles, some argue it’s a paltry sum. Electrifying the 200,000-vehicle fleet could also help spur more widespread adoption of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure as well as bring down costs of those technologies.
Doing so would also deliver on an executive order President Joe Biden issued to fully electrify all federal vehicles shortly after taking office in January 2021. Under the plan, all such electric vehicles would be made in America — hence, the administration calls it the “Buy American Rule.”
The government’s fleet included nearly 650,000 vehicles in 2019. The existing EIS report says that electrifying the 165,000 USPS delivery vehicles could eliminate 537,000 metric tons of direct tailpipe carbon emissions. Transportation creates about one-third of America’s overall greenhouse gas emissions, according to the EPA, and is the largest source of planet-warming pollution in the U.S. Reducing those emissions is vital to meeting the goal the Biden administration set to reduce U.S. carbon emissions at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030. Failing to do so could result in dangerous levels of global warming.