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Turns out the USPS is about to start electrifying its fleet after all

Turns out the USPS is about to start electrifying its fleet after all

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The United States Postal Service is being kicked and screamed into an electric vehicle future. It only took a huge public outcry, lawsuits from 16 different states, and an impassioned plea from the President himself to get her there.

Though the USPS had previously decided to split its new fleet of gasoline and electric vehicles 90%/10%, the agency turned a dime this week and announced it would spend nearly $10 billion by 2028 to acquire 66,000 electric issue EV trucks. That is more than half of the 106,000 vehicles that were to be purchased during this period.

While it’s not the 100 percent EV transformation some were hoping for, it’s still far more than the pathetic 10 percent eye roll that the USPS wanted to get away with. The agency also said that new vehicle purchases after 2026 would be “100% electric,” although that commitment could ultimately depend on who is in the Oval Office in 2024.

In the short term, the USPS plans to purchase at least 60,000 new “Next Generation Delivery Vehicles” (NGDV), 75% of which will be battery powered. The agency will complement these NGDVs by purchasing an additional 21,000 battery electric commercial vehicles.

The Postal Service’s total investment of $9.6 billion will include $3 billion from the Inflation Reduction Act passed earlier this year to help build the vehicles and install modern charging infrastructure at USPS facilities. In a statement, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who previously said the agency could not afford sluggish investments in electric vehicles, credited those extra congressional funds for the change.

“The $3 billion provided by Congress has significantly reduced the risk associated with accelerating the implementation of a nationwide infrastructure needed to electrify our delivery fleet,” DeJoy said. “Although most of the funding for electric vehicles will continue to come from Postal Service revenue, we are grateful for the confidence that Congress and the Administration have placed in us to build and acquire what has the potential to become the to become the largest electric vehicle fleet in the country.”

This reorientation could make a significant ecological difference. An environmental impact statement conducted by the USPS last year estimated that moving to an all-electric fleet could prevent an estimated 537,415 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. That equates to about 9 million trees growing for 10 years. The transition to an all-electric fleet would also prevent nearly 1 million tons of harmful nitrogen oxides and 11,000 tons of carbon monoxide from entering the air annually, according to the same statement.

The USPS, which delivers packages to about 163 million addresses six days a week, provides most of the vehicles in the federal government’s fleet. Electrifying these mail trucks would bring the U.S. one step closer to the Biden administration’s goal of having all federal agencies purchase 100% zero-emission vehicles for the federal fleet by 2035.

“The U.S. Postal Service roster sets the pace for other leading public and private sector fleets,” Brenda Mallory, chair of the Environmental Quality Council, said in a statement. “It is clear that the future of transportation is electric – and that future is here.”

Senior Biden adviser John Podesta, who has worked with the USPS to meet the new EV targets, said the plan “puts USPS at the forefront of the clean transportation revolution.”

With the announcement, the Postal Service will try to gloss over the less-than-enthusiastic reception of its new, gas-powered design released last year, which the EPA said would only achieve a lousy 8.6mpg. That’s a measly 0.4mpg improvement from the Postal Service’s old clunkers. It also looks like a sick mutant bug, but not everyone thinks so.

While the USPS’s focus on more electric vehicles will be a welcome change for most environmentalists, it’s worth keeping in mind the so-called economic imperatives that brought the agency here in the first place. The cost of transitioning the entire USPS fleet would reportedly be about $3.3 billion, more than the agency’s original 90% to 10% split. That may sound like a lot until you consider that just last week, Congress gave final approval to an $858 billion military policy.

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