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Sunday, February 5, 2023

Climate Activists’ Demands for EV Mail Truck Fleet Hypocritical

Editor’s note: Written by Paul Steidler, a senior fellow with the Lexington Institute, a public policy think tank based in Arlington, Virginia.

Climate activists are giving us a preview of their fanatical impulses to force Americans to purchase electric cars and trucks. Exhibit A is the reckless, hypocritical, and short-sighted demands they are making of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to buy an all-electric fleet of delivery vehicles.

Fifteen months ago, USPS first announced plans to replace its dirty, dangerous fleet and the activists pounced. These vehicles are an average of nearly 30 years old, many without air conditioning and modern brake systems. More than 400 have caught on fire in recent years. They have high maintenance costs and are inefficient, impeding USPS’s ability to make timely deliveries. Worse, they are dangerous.

In the first installment of 50,000 vehicles, USPS plans are for 20 percent to be electric. This is a much higher proportion than the general auto market. Just three percent of all new vehicle sales in 2021 were electric. In the next round, USPS could procure an even higher percentage of electric vehicles as announced by the Postmaster General on March 24.

Activists have responded with a bevy of lawsuits that threaten to delay the prompt deployment of badly needed new vehicles, further raising costs, endangering lives, and keeping USPS’s emissions from old vehicles exceptionally high.

Climate activists admit this fight is for show. They have repeatedly discussed how the example of USPS using all-electric vehicles, or at least 75 percent as related legislation would require, would be a catalyst to spur higher electric vehicle sales.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), who chairs the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight and Reform Committee, which has been pressuring USPS to go electric, joined this sentiment early on. “The Postal Service can be at the forefront of electric vehicle technology and set an example for the country and the world,” she said in May 2021.

The Postal Service has a vital role to play in America: the timely delivery of 50 billion pieces of first-class mail annually – bills, payments, personal and legal correspondence, and much more. It is not to be a guinea pig for abrupt climate change solutions.

Sixteen Attorneys General have now been persuaded to sue USPS to force it to buy more electric vehicles. And yet many of these states’ purchase vehicles, and have purchasing standards, that are far less environmentally friendly than USPS.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James, in announcing the lawsuit said USPS’s purchasing plans “will have lasting and devastating consequences for our environment, and the health and well-being of New Yorkers.”

Yet, according to the New York Office of General Services, in 2021 just 5.24 percent of New York State’s government fleet were zero-emission vehicles, a slight increase from 4 percent in 2020. Percentage wise, New York State has one-fourth of the number of zero emission vehicles USPS plans to purchase.

In New York City, according to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, just 3,000 of the City’s 29,718 vehicle fleet are electric, a little more than 10 percent.

Furthermore, USPS will at most be replacing 165,000 of its delivery vehicles, less than 0.6 percent of the 250 million cars, SUVs, and light-duty trucks currently on America’s roads today. Perhaps Attorney General James should also sue New York Governor Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams if she believes the relatively small amount of USPS planned vehicles will have “devastating consequences” for New York.

California, which is also party to the AGs lawsuit, is similarly throwing stones from a glass house. The state does not hold itself to the same emissions purity standard it wants for USPS. It only requires that 35 percent of new government vehicle purchases have zero emissions, with the total rising to 50 percent by 2025.

Vermont, which is also on the lawsuit, has comprehensive programs in place to drive greater purchases of electric vehicles. But its goals are also modest, compared to what it demands of USPS. On its website, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation says it “estimates that by 2025, about 5.4 percent of new vehicles sold in Vermont will be required to be ZEVs.”

Rather than declare victory over USPS’s plans, climate activists are becoming increasingly audacious. There are time-consuming investigations of USPS, Congressional hearings, and lawsuits.

Members of Congress and activists bash Postmaster General DeJoy, a Republican and former large fundraiser for Donald Trump and the Republican Party, to raise money for environmental causes. At the same time, they woo him with offers of taxpayer funds to help pay for the cost of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure.

Republicans must hold the line against any grants to USPS to purchase electric vehicles. By law, USPS is supposed to be self-financed. Yet Congress recently passed the Postal Service Reform Act (PRSA) a large de facto bailout, that provides $107 billion in reduced liabilities.

Giving more taxpayer dollars to USPS for vehicles is counter to the bipartisan legislative spirit in passing PRSA. It will empower the most demanding climate activists who want USPS to do what they will not and who are seeking to exploit USPS for their broader climate agenda.

The American people need a Postal Service with quality vehicles that provide timely service. They do not need it to be an exhibit for the Green New Deal, and they will be harmed if it is.

Trucks.com welcomes divergent thoughts and opinions on transport technology and trucking industry issues. Use the comments section to cite yours. Qualified opinion leaders are welcome to offer suggestions for opinion columns. Contact info@trucks.com.

Jerry Hirsch February 1, 2021
Electric trucks fit the needs of U.S. Postal Service delivery routes and might make the most financial sense because of greater reliability and lower cost of operation.

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