The multi-state coalition claims that the Postal Service’s decision to continue using gas-powered automobiles will devastate the environment.
California and 15 other states have filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the U.S. Postal Service from purchasing more gas-powered vehicles.
According to ABC News, three separate lawsuits—filed by coalitions of state attorneys general and environmental advocacy organizations—have been filed in courts in California and New York.
The lawsuits broadly ask judges to order the Postal Service to conduct a more thorough environmental review before committing to purchasing more gasoline-powered delivery vehicles.
While each of the three lawsuits was filed separately, they all contend that the Postal Service would be better off with electric vehicles—and that a continuing reliance on fossil fuels will irreparably harm the environment for generations to come.
Scott Hochberg, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said that the U.S. Postmaster General appears blind to the dire environmental risk.
“Louis DeJoy’s gas-guzzling fleet guarantees decades of pollution with every postcard and package,” he said.
“The purpose of environmental review is to inform the USPS’s decision, not rubberstamp a plan it had already made,” Hochberg said. “Postal delivery trucks visit almost every neighborhood in the United States daily. It’s backward and bewildering that the USPS would show such disregard for climate and public health with its decision.”
California Attorney General Rob Bonta said that the Postal Service’s acquisition of non-electric automobiles must be stopped now.
After the purchase is complete, Bonta said, attorneys general will have few options for recourse.
“Once this purchase goes through, we’ll be stuck with more than 100,000 new gas-guzzling vehicles on neighborhood streets, serving homes across our state and across the country, for the next 30 years,” Bonta said. “There won’t be a reset button.”
However, Postal Service spokesperson Kim Frum sent an email to The Associated Press defending the move.
“The Postal Service conducted a robust and thorough review and fully complied with all of our obligations under the [National Environmental Policy Act],” Frum said.
“We will continue to look for opportunities to increase the electrification of our delivery fleet in a responsible manner, consistent with our operating strategy, the deployment of appropriate infrastructure, and our financial condition, which we expect to continue to improve as we pursue our plan,” Frum said.
Nevertheless, environmental advocacy organizations say that the Postal Service’s “review” process was inadequate and deeply flawed.
Adrian Martinez, an attorney with Earthjustice’s Right to Zero campaign, said that the review process was “so rickety and riddled with error that it failed to meet the basic standards of the National Environmental Policy Act.”
The Los Angeles Times notes that the Postal Service’s fleet currently includes about 190,000 local delivery vehicles.
Of these 190,000 vehicles, an estimated 141,000 are older models that lack modern safety features, such as air bags, anti-lock brakes, and backup cameras.
The newer vehicles at the center of the lawsuits incorporate reconfigured designs, safety features, and improved ergonomics and climate control.