‘Unfeasible Or Impractical’: USPS Wants Billions Of Dollars For Electric Vehicle Transition

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Thomas Catenacci Energy & Environment Reporter
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The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) estimated that the federal government would need to provide $3.3 billion in additional funds for the agency to purchase a completely electric vehicle fleet.

While replacing 75,000 traditional gas-powered delivery vehicles with electric alternatives would cost $2.3 billion, transitioning the entire 165,000-vehicle fleet would have a price tag of $1 billion more, according to the recent USPS estimate. The agency’s preferred proposal would consist of electrifying “at least” 10% of its fleet.

In February 2021, the USPS announced a multi-billion-dollar, 10-year deal with U.S. automaker Oshkosh Defense to produce fuel-efficient vehicles and some electric models. Climate activists characterized the decision to purchase more internal combustion engine vehicles as “a missed opportunity.”

“While fully supporting environmentally sustainable technology in our fleet, there are operational limitations to electric-only vehicles and in certain postal delivery environments,” Postmaster General Louis DeJoy wrote to lawmakers in March. “This includes a lack of available infrastructure, and as many as 12,500 postal routes where distance, environmental conditions, or facility limitations make electric vehicles unfeasible or impractical.” (RELATED: Senior White House Climate Official Resigns)

USPS Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testifies during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Feb. 24 on Capitol Hill. (Jim Watson/Pool/Getty Images)

USPS Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testifies during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Feb. 24 on Capitol Hill. (Jim Watson/Pool/Getty Images)

DeJoy said that the USPS would need about $8 billion from Congress to electrify the majority of its vehicle fleet. President Joe Biden’s spending package, which was effectively killed by Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, included $6 billion in funds for creating a 70% electric USPS vehicle fleet and expanding charging infrastructure, The Washington Post reported.

But climate experts cast doubt on the agency’s recent $3.3 billion estimate, saying that the projection was lazy, according to E&E News.

“It doesn’t seem they’ve done their homework,” Patricio Portillo, an analyst at environmental group the Natural Resources Defense Council, told E&E News.

The USPS lost $69 billion between 2007 and 2018, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that called the postal service’s financial position “unsustainable.” In 2021 alone, the postal service reported a $6.9 billion loss.

“Our financial position is dire, stemming from substantial declines in mail volume, a broken business model and a management strategy that has not adequately addressed these issues,” DeJoy said in 2020 after assuming his leadership role at the agency.

Biden has vowed to ensure 50% of private car sales are electric by 2030 and that every addition to the federal governments’ massive vehicle fleet is an EV by 2035.

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