Postal service

Illinois joins lawsuit to force US Postal Service delivery fleet to go electric | Chicago News

Illinois, 15 other states and environmental activists are suing the US Postal Service over its plan to buy thousands of gas-powered trucks for its delivery fleet.

The lawsuits claim the Postal Service’s environmental review had major flaws and are pushing the agency to adopt electric delivery trucks.

The federal lawsuit Illinois joined was filed late last week, and it accuses the Postal Service of botching its review of a plan to buy up to 165,000 new delivery trucks in order to modernize its fleet. The contract calls for only 10% of those trucks to be electric vehicles, but the agency says it could buy more depending on whether it makes fiscal and strategic sense.

But Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said it appears the agency failed to follow the National Environmental Policy Act, awarding the contract before conducting an environmental review.

“These laws aren’t on the books just so you can tick a box and publish a report after you make a decision,” Raoul said. “La Poste has a fleet of more than 212,000 vehicles. If we can make changes with the postal service, it could have a dramatic effect on the preservation of our environment.

The Postal Services defended the deal. A spokesperson told WTTW News it placed an initial order for 50,000 new trucks in March and a minimum of around 10,000 will be electric vehicles.

“The Postal Service is fully committed to including electric vehicles as an important part of our delivery fleet, even though the investment will cost more than an internal combustion engine vehicle,” a doorman said. speech in a press release. “Having said that, as we have said many times, we need to make financially prudent decisions when introducing a necessary new fleet of vehicles. We will continue to seek opportunities to responsibly increase the electrification of our delivery fleet.

In addition to the 16 states suing the Postal Service, environmental groups are also suing the agency.

Patricio Portillo of the Natural Resources Defense Council says many trucks in the current fleet have been on the road for decades, which means the new ones are likely to have a long life as well. And, he notes that they spend a lot of time on the road.

“These vehicles, every day of the week … are in our neighborhoods, idling, driving slowly, doing the hard work of delivering our mail. But they also emit NOx and particulates into our air,” Portillo said. “It’s a big problem, especially for communities that already suffer from poor air quality.”

Local environmentalists support this legal effort, especially since it’s not just the Postal Service on the road. The increase in e-commerce during the pandemic means more delivery vehicles than ever.

Advocates say electric vehicles can improve air quality, but they also warn that it’s important that fulfillment centers aren’t just located in low-income areas and communities of color in Chicago.

“We understand that the city and the state want to develop in transportation, logistics and distribution. However, they do not take into account the impacts, both on air quality issues and on the cost of medical and health care to our communities and the environment,” said Kimberly Wasserman of the Little Village Environmental. Justice Organization. “Unfortunately, the dollar signs of this growing industry are too enticing to examine the realities of what ensues in communities like ours and Illinois communities face daily the expense of unchecked growth in this domain.”

Companies with large delivery footprints, including Amazon, have said they want electric vehicles to make up a large part of their fleets – but it’s not necessarily that simple. There are still generation capacity and supply chain issues to go all-electric. Caspar Rawles is Chief Data Officer for Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, a market analysis company for raw components that go into electric vehicles.

“After the pandemic, we’ve seen global governments looking to promote the ‘green recovery’. A big part of that is the energy transition – the shift from fossil fuels to renewables – and electric vehicles in transport are a part of that. key,” Rawles said. “Cost is a big issue. In the short term it is very difficult to manage these costs. There is no effective hedging tool to manage your cost exposure. Then in the medium term as well , we’re looking at a problem of supply, in general – actually being able to access the materials you need when you need them.

But, according to Rawles, the Biden administration’s commitments to improve the supply chain are positive signs for the electric vehicle market. And NRDC’s Portillo says that since the new USPS vehicles will be built by a single contractor, that should also alleviate some of the crisis and help make an electric postal truck fleet a reality.

Contact Nick Blumberg: [email protected] | (773) 509-5434 | @ndblumberg