AG Ferguson files lawsuit against Postmaster DeJoy for violating bedrock environmental law

Friday, April 29, 2022

Photo by Steven H. Robinson
OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced today a lawsuit against Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) asserting that they violated federal environmental law when deciding in February to replace up to 165,000 vehicles with primarily gas-powered models rather than making a larger switch to electric vehicles.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, asserts the Postal Service and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), often referred to as the “Magna Carta of environmental law,” during a deficient review process. 

For example, USPS chose a manufacturer, signed a contract and put down a substantial down payment for new vehicles months before it released any environmental review of a decision. When USPS published its environmental review, it did not consider reasonable alternatives, like buying a majority of electric vehicles and opting for gas vehicles where electric vehicles were infeasible. 

The Postal Service also ignored key environmental impacts, like the effect of continued poor air quality in already-polluted communities. USPS also did not consider whether purchasing a majority of gas-powered vehicles was consistent with climate policies in states like Washington.

Instead, the Postal Service’s environmental review depended on a contactor with no experience making electric vehicles, ignored reasonable alternatives, discounted the air quality and climate effects of a new fleet of gas-powered trucks and relied on an assumption that any upgrades to its vehicle fleet would be environmentally beneficial.

USPS has one of the largest civilian vehicle fleets in the world, consisting of approximately 212,000 vehicles that are on the road delivering mail at least six days per week to nearly every community in the U.S. Most of these vehicles were manufactured between 1986 and 1994 and are now beyond their intended service life. As a result, they are increasingly expensive to operate and maintain.

In February 2021, DeJoy, a Trump Administration appointee, chose Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Defense to build the replacement fleet. USPS will spend billions of dollars over the next decade to replace its aging vehicles. Oshkosh does not currently manufacture any electric vehicles.

When making its decision on the replacement fleet, Ferguson asserts, USPS ignored or discounted the environmental impacts — including air quality in communities already burdened by pollution, environmental justice and other climate harms — by simply assuming that any upgrade to its vehicle fleet would be positive.

More information here


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