In 2020, people all across America ramped up their support of the U.S. Postal Service as the agency struggled with economic problems. Now, the federal government is on the brink of finally giving the USPS a financial windfall, as the Postal Service overhaul bill just passed in the House.
However, environmentalists are skeptical of the bill; should it become law, it would provide the USPS with a massive number of gas-powered vehicles (with a unique design that went viral in early 2021), increase the government’s environmental impact, and simply be a huge missed opportunity to modernize the fleet by favoring electric vehicles.
The Postal Service overhaul just passed in the House.
On Tuesday, Feb. 8, the House voted in favor of the Postal Service Reform Act, which would completely revamp the agency’s budget, resources, and services. Next, the bill will go to the Senate — sometime by the end of next week, as per CNN. If it passes there, the next and final stop will be President Biden’s desk, and Biden’s team has suggested that the POTUS supports the bill, as per The New York Times.
The bill is designed to fix a lot of issues the USPS has been dealing with. According to Politico, it would mandate retired USPS employees to join Medicare, relieving the USPS of funding health insurance for its retirees; and it would require the USPS to develop a system to track performance data. But most notably, it will bolster the agency’s fleet with thousands of new gas-powered vehicles.
The Postal Service wants new vehicles with awful gas mileage.
As reported by The Guardian, the overhaul would spend $11.3 billion on replacing old USPS vehicles over the next 10 years. According to USPS’s Environmental Impact Statement on the matter, that money will specifically go toward 50,000 to 165,000 vehicles.
Up to 90 percent of these vehicles will be the gas-powered ICE NGDV (Next Generation Delivery Vehicle) made by Oshkosh Defense. The document notes that the ICE NGDV is “significantly less expensive than” the BEV NGDV, Oshkosh Defense’s zero-emission battery-electric vehicle, which will make up at least 10 percent of the new fleet.
If the USPS made 100 percent of its new vehicles the BEV NGDV, as opposed to just 10 percent, it would result in approximately 200 percent less greenhouse gas emissions, both direct and indirect, according to the report. However, the report states that the USPS is choosing to focus on the gas-guzzling ICE NGDV, because buying all BEV NGDVs would cost an additional $2.3 billion.
Newer gas-powered vehicles often get better gas mileage than older models. But unfortunately, the mileage on the USPS’s new vehicles will get a dismal 8.6 miles to the gallon, as per the Environmental Protection Agency. To put that into perspective, that’s worse than the original Hummer, as well as many of the gas-powered trucks on U.S. roads today, according to The Guardian.
And the EPA is not happy about that — last week, both the EPA and the White House Council on Environmental Quality wrote letters to the USPS, asking the agency to change its plans regarding these vehicles, run a more thorough environmental impact analysis, and host a public hearing on the topic, as per The Washington Post.
But now, with the bill having passed in the House, it’s looking more and more likely that it will become law. And sure, $2.3 billion is a lot — but so are the USPS’s GHG emissions.