Editorial: The future is electric. So why is the Postal Service buying gas-guzzling trucks?

Mail carriers load their trucks at the U.S. Postal Service office in Van Nuys in September 2020.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

While Amazon, FedEx, UPS, Walmart and other companies are racing to replace their fossil-fuel-powered delivery vehicles with zero-emission models, the U.S. Postal Service is careening in the opposite direction.

The Postal Service, led by Trump-era appointee Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, is planning to spend $11.3 billion on as many as 165,000 new gas-guzzling delivery trucks over the next decade, according to the Washington Post. It’s the first large-scale purchase of trucks in three decades. The service has more than 230,000 vehicles and has said just 10% of the next-generation fleet will be electric.

For the record:

1:30 p.m. Feb. 4, 2022An earlier version incorrectly stated that Louis DeJoy was a Trump appointee. In fact, he was hired by the Postal Service Board of Governors, which was appointed by Trump.

What a wasted opportunity. President Biden and Congress should put a stop to this plan and demand the Postal Service invest in clean, zero-emission vehicles.


Private-sector delivery companies have recognized that the future is electric and they’re investing now to build up their zero-emission fleets. Although electric vehicles may cost more up front now, they are expected to be cheaper over time because they don’t require pricey fuel purchases and their engines need less maintenance because they have fewer mechanical parts than gas-powered vehicles.

Biden has to accelerate the transition to clean cars to help save the planet.

Aug. 6, 2021

It should also be clear that the U.S. cannot prolong its dependence on fossil fuels. The transportation sector produces the largest share of planet-warming emissions in the U.S. If the world has any hope of preventing the worst devastation of climate change, the U.S. must do its part to quickly decarbonize cars, trucks and other vehicles.

The government should be leading that effort. Biden has issued an executive order directing the federal government to buy only zero-emission vehicles by 2035, with an earlier 2027 deadline for light-duty vehicles, such as cars and small trucks. Postal Service vehicles account for a third of the federal fleet and the last generation of mail trucks lasted 30 years, so if Biden is going to meet his own climate goals, it’s especially important that the new mail trucks be clean models.

But the Postal Service is an independent agency and not subject to Biden’s climate orders. Nor does the president have the power to fire the postmaster general. Nevertheless the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and White House Council on Environmental Quality sent letters to DeJoy this week urging him to scrap the purchase plan.

The Postal Service has said it doesn’t have the money to buy zero-emission vehicles, but that can and should be resolved. The Biden administration included funding for a 100% electric mail truck fleet in the $2-trillion “Build Back Better” plan, which was blocked in Congress by Republicans and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia. Even if the comprehensive bill doesn’t move forward as is, there’s no good reason to stall key funding programs, like electrifying the next generation of mail trucks.

The federal government should lead by example. Mail trucks are in every community in America, and investing in clean, electric models will send a powerful message that the zero-emission future starts now.