AG Shapiro Files Suit Against USPS, Argues Vehicle Acquisition Plan Fails to Comply with Environmental Standards

April 28, 2022 | Topic: Peoples AG

HARRISBURG – Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced today that his office has filed suit against the U.S. Postal Service, challenging its flawed environmental analysis for its Next Generation Delivery Vehicle Acquisition program. The suit alleges that the Postal Service’s plans to replace 90% of their fleet with fossil fuel vehicles fails to comply with even the most basic requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, and should be vacated.

“This isn’t a small endeavor the Postal Service is setting out on,” said AG Shapiro. “They’re working to replace the largest civilian fleet in the world. The scope of this is massive and will undeniably have a lasting impact on our environment. Which makes the fact that the process was hastily and sloppily done all the worse.”

Under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Postal Service is obligated to take a “hard look” at the environmental impact of its Next Generation Delivery Vehicle Acquisitions program. This “hard look” is intended to arm agencies with information on potential environmental outcomes so that they may make well informed decisions. However, in this case, the Postal Service chose a manufacturer, signed a contract, and paid a substantial down payment for new vehicles, all before even publishing a cursory environmental review.

That review, when it was later finalized, failed to consider and evaluate vehicle fleets with a larger mix of electric vehicles. The report instead considered only retaining a fully gas-powered fleet, converting the entire fleet to electric vehicles, or converting 90% of the fleet to gas powered vehicles and 10% to electric vehicles.

“The postal service is required, by law, to perform a thorough analysis before signing a new contract for vehicles,” said AG Shapiro. “Instead they put the mail cart before the horse, signed a deal, and published a flimsy report later. Their report analyzes only two extreme alternatives and fails to consider a number of more measured responses. Not once in the report did USPS take into account how their actions might impact Pennsylvania’s goals related to safeguarding our environment. The report is a failure of imagination on a level that makes it clear the USPS had no desire to look into any real ways to better protect our environment for the health and safety of Pennsylvanians today, and the next generation. Pennsylvanians deserve a plan that embraces cleaner technologies and responds to the realities of our warming climate — and I’m going to fight to make sure they get that.”

The lawsuit argues that the Postal Service’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) violated the National Environmental Policy Act and should be set aside because:

  • The Postal Service violated well-established legal precedent by signing contracts with a defense contractor to procure the vehicles before releasing its draft environmental review
  • The Postal Service failed to consider reasonable alternatives to its proposed action and arbitrarily rejected a consideration of vehicle fleets with a greater percentage of electric vehicles
  • The Postal Service’s environmental review failed to properly consider air quality, environmental justice, and climate impacts of purchasing a primarily gas powered fleet
  • The Final EIS failed to ensure the scientific integrity of its analysis by relying on unfounded assumptions and failing to provide the source of the data it considered
  • The final EIS is inconsistent with state policies to reduce fossil fuel consumption and to encourage the development and use of clean vehicles

Attorney General Shapiro has filed suit as part of a multistate coalition that includes the attorneys general of California, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, as well as the City of New York and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

A copy of the petition can be found here.

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