What Americans Don’t Know About the USPS Battle

The following is adapted from an opinion piece in Common Dreams by Thom Hartmann.

Earlier this week we talked about a bipartisan bill that would overhaul the United States Postal Service, see here. What follows explains why there was such resounding acceptance of such an overhaul by Republicans.

As it turns out, there was a plan for the USPS to take its massive civilian fleet from gas-powered vehicles to electric long ago, before Congress crippled the agency with requirements to prefund its retiree pensions.

In 2006, things were going well for the Post Office. They were making money and decided with their surplus they would help to jump start the electric vehicle revolution, to address the problems with global warming emissions.

“Transitioning the Postal fleet to plug-ins would serve as a springboard for the commercial production of delivery vehicles that could be extended to a wide variety of delivery services across America.

“The commercial market would also provide the economic certainty needed by automakers to make the production investments necessary for the mass production of plug-ins.

“The plug-in technology is available right now and represents a realistic near-term solution to the serious problems of over-reliance on foreign oil, out of control gasoline prices, as well as greenhouse emissions.”

With a 30-year life span, PO vehicles could drastically wean American lifestyles from the fossil fuel teat, and I guess you know that Republicans had a fit.

Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) came to the rescue with a model of the Unfunded Pensions Liabilities Act, which called on state governments to account for exactly how they plan to fund future retiree benefits.

Before long a Republican bill was signed into effect by George W. Bush after a voice vote, giving no record of who voted for the bill. The bill required the USPS to pre-fund its retiree benefits for 70 years, at a cost of $5 billion annually.

This forced the USPS to use the money it intended for an electric fleet and fund the retirements of future employees who hadn’t even been born yet.

There could be further hobbling of the agency’s efficiency by destroying sorting machines and removing drop boxes, so that customers might ask for privitization. Reagan’s term was “starve the beast.”

Which brings us to Louis DeJoy.

DeJoy, who oversaw the agency’s decision to award the truck contract to Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Defense, signed off on a plan calling for only 10 percent of the new trucks to be electric and offering only a 0.4-mile-per-gallon fuel economy improvement over the agency’s current fleet, which is nearly 30 years old. When asked why the Postal Service wasn’t buying more electric vehicles, he said it couldn’t afford them.


DeJoy is itching to sign that contract for the gas powered vehicles, while environmentalists and Biden officials are begging the EPA to refer the dispute to the White House Council on Environmental Quality, which mediates disagreements between federal agencies over actions affecting the environment and public health.

Republican Senators are currently holding up the confirmation of President Biden’s Postal Board of Governors’ appointees. Without them, the Trump appointees are refusing to get rid of DeJoy.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is calling for the Senate to move the board nominees forward over GOP objections.

The fight to keep fossil fuel dinosaurs in the USPS fleet may be over, and another nail in the coffin of the Biden green agenda. This is why there was bipartisan support in the House (342-90) for a bill that would end the prefunding retirement agreement — Republicans can see the plan for electric vehicles at the USPS is dead.