People seem to be fairly pissed about the United States Postal Service’s decision to procure nearly 150,000 new and grossly inefficient postal vehicles from(the defense contractor, not the maker of toddler clothes). Now it looks like they’re doing something about it.
By they, I mean 16 states, the District of Columbia and a bunch of environmental activist groups, and by “doing something about it,” I mean that they’ve filed a lawsuit to block the purchase of these fuel-hungry new postal vehicles, as reported by The Washington Post.
The Oshkosh mail truck averages a frankly pathetic 8.6 miles per gallon, which is only 0.4 mpg better than, the last of which was produced in 1994 and which used the same Iron Duke engine as the original Pontiac Fiero.
“The Postal Service’s improper action will not only needlessly pollute every American community for decades to come,” the suit alleges, “but it will also cost millions more in taxpayer funds and leave the agency vulnerable to fluctuating fuel prices.”
There have been several attempts to get the USPS to reconsider its plan to move forward with Oshkosh. The Environmental Protection Agency asked it to think it over, and the Biden administration also encouraged a rethink. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump appointee, shut them down, saying that the Postal Service can’t wait anymore andto have it orders powered by electricity.
The states that have signed onto the lawsuit include California (because, duh) as well as Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington state. Also on board are the District of Columbia and New York City, plus other regulatory bodies and environmental activists.
But wait, there’s more. Even outside of the environmental issues that this purchase would cause, Oshkosh, the company who will build the trucks, has managed to tick off the United Auto Workers union (which the Big Three will tell you). It’s done this by not planning to build the mail trucks in any of its existing unionized factories, instead constructing them in a nonunion facility in South Carolina.
At this point, it’s unclear what the solution to the issue would be, given the contracts already in place with Oshkosh. Would the company be tasked with bailing on the plannedand finding a way to plug in a modern electric drivetrain with sufficient range for most postal routes? No matter what happens, this is likely to cause a bunch of changes in the way that government agencies go about procuring vehicles in the future.