By Jared Acosta
On April 28, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced that, along with at least 16 other states and three metropolitan areas, he was filing a lawsuit against the United States Postal Service (USPS). AG Shapiro alleges that USPS's plans to replace 90% of the new fleet with gas-powered vehicles do not comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). According to the Environmental Protection Agency's website, the NEPA requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions prior to making decisions. Shapiro is challenging their environmental analysis, which he calls flawed, and is requesting the court vacate it.
"This isn't a small endeavor the Postal Service is setting out on. 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," said AG Shapiro.
The lawsuit is asking the decision be put aside for the following five reasons:
- 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.
"The postal service is required, by law, to perform a thorough analysis before signing a new contract for vehicles. Instead, they put the mail cart before the horse, signed a deal, and published a flimsy report later," AG Shapiro said, "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."
This lawsuit is 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 is available at https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/2022-04-28-USPS-Vehicle-Plan.pdf
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