U.S. House Democrats seek new environmental review of postal delivery contract By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A U.S. Postal Service (USPS) logo is pictured on a mail box in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., August 21, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. House of Representatives committee on Wednesday will consider a bill that seeks to invalidate a U.S. Postal Service (USPS) environmental review conducted as part of its deal to buy 50,000 next-generation delivery vehicles.

House Oversight and Reform chair Carolyn Maloney is introducing legislation that would toss out the environmental review and compel USPS to conduct a new one. The White House and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) previously asked USPS to reconsider.

USPS in March placed an initial $2.98 billion order for 50,000 next-generation delivery vehicles from Oshkosh (NYSE:), and doubled its planned electric vehicle (EV) purchases from 5,000 to 10,019 by 2026.

USPS expects vehicles will begin appearing on carrier routes in late 2023. The modern vehicles will replace many 30-year-old vehicles without airbags or other safety features.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy defended the vehicle purchase plan, telling Reuters in an interview last month he picked 10,019 specific routes to use EVs: “We’re making big moves.”

USPS expects to receive about 5,000 next-generation vehicles in 2023 – and about 21,000 a year after that.

DeJoy called the order “a slam dunk”, given USPS’s urgent vehicle needs. “I have people out there that have trucks that are dangerous,” DeJoy said.

He said in the near-term USPS needs gas-powered vehicles and said the purchase was “a very, very logical decision based on our math for our business.”

“But we’re in an illogical environment.”

DeJoy reiterated he is open to buying more EVs if Congress gave him new funding.

“My job is the United States Postal Service – it’s the not the EPA,” DeJoy said. “We’re going to be around for another 250 years – and we’ll be a green environment at some point along that journey.”

Last month, 16 states, environmental groups and the United Auto Workers filed suit seeking to block the service’s delivery vehicle plan, arguing it failed to comply with environmental regulations. In response, USPS said it “conducted a robust and thorough review and fully complied with all of our obligations.”

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