HARRISBURG, Pa (WTAJ) — Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced on April 28 that his office has filed a suit against the U.S. Postal Service claiming their new vehicle program fails to comply with environmental standards.
According to the suit, the Postal Service plans to replace 90% of its fleet with vehicles that use fossil fuels. This fails to comply with the basic requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act and according to Shapiro, should be vacated.
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
As part of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Postal Service Is obligated to take a “hard look” at the environmental impact of their new vehicles according to a release from the AG’s office. The “hard look” is supposed to provide agencies with information on potential environmental outcomes and help them make informed decisions. In the suit, Shapiro believes the Postal Service signed a contract and put a down payment for new vehicles before any environmental review.
“This isn’t a small endeavor the Postal Service is setting out on,” AG Shapiro said. “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.”
When the review was finalized, according to Shapiro, it failed to consider and evaluate vehicle fleets with a mix of electric vehicles. Instead, the Post Service considered retaining a fully gas-powered fleet, converting the entire fleet to electric vehicles or converting 90% of the fleet to gas-powered and only 10% to electric vehicles.
“The postal service is required, by law, to perform a thorough analysis before signing a new contract for vehicles,” AG Shapiro said. “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.”
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In addition to Shapiro, the Attorney Generals of California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington filed as part of a multistate coalition. The City of New York and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District also joined the suit.
A copy of the petition can be found online.