Four environmental groups who want the US Postal Service to buy more electric delivery vehicles are suing to stop purchases of thousands of gas-powered trucks as the agency upgrades its mail delivery fleet.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday in federal court in California, asks a judge to order the Postal Service to conduct a more thorough environmental review before moving forward with the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle program.
The plaintiffs argue that fossil fuel delivery vehicle purchases will cause environmental damage for decades.
“Louis DeJoy’s gas-guzzling fleet guarantees decades of pollution with every postcard and every package,” said Scott Hochberg, attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, referring to the postmaster general.
The lawsuit filed by Earthjustice, the Center for Biological Diversity, CleanAirNow KC and the Sierra Club may be the first of several targeting the Postal Service’s environmental review of the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle program.
The Postal Service defended its actions.
“The Postal Service has conducted a rigorous and thorough review and has fully complied with all of our obligations under (the National Environmental Policy Act),” spokesman Kim Frum said in an email Thursday.
The Postal Service contract calls for 10% of new vehicles to be electric, but the Postal Service says more electric vehicles can be purchased based on financial outlook and strategic considerations.
The percentage of battery electric vehicles doubled – to 20% – in the initial $2.98 billion order for 50,000 vehicles.
Environmental advocates argue that the Postal Service’s environmental review was inadequate and flawed, and that the contract represented a missed opportunity to electrify the fleet and reduce emissions.
The review process “was so rickety and riddled with errors that it failed to meet basic standards of the National Environmental Policy Act,” said Adrian Martinez, senior counsel for Earthjustice’s Right to Zero campaign. .
The Postal Service is replacing the ubiquitous delivery trucks that entered service between 1987 and 1994.
In total, the Postal Service fleet includes 190,000 local delivery vehicles. More than 141,000 of them are older models that lack safety features such as airbags, anti-lock brakes and backup cameras.
The new vehicles are taller to make it easier for postmen to grab parcels and parcels that make up a larger share of the volume. They also improved ergonomics and air conditioning.
Sharp reported from Portland, Maine.
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