Huffman Introduces Bill to Modernize U.S. Postal Fleet

January 29, 2014

WASHINGTON­—Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), joined by Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA), today introduced a bill to help modernize the United States Postal Service’s (USPS) inefficient and outdated vehicle fleet. The Federal Leadership in Energy Efficient Transportation (FLEET) Act of 2014 (H.R. 3963) would require the USPS to reduce their petroleum consumption by 2% each year over the next 10 years. This Act will increase cost savings by reducing expenditures on petroleum fuel and maintenance and sets benchmarks to make the USPS fleet a global leader in efficiency and innovation. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, implementation of the FLEET Act would save the Postal Service an estimated 150 million gallons of fuel over the next ten years—about $400 million.

The Postal Service owns and operates the world’s largest civilian vehicle fleet: 192,000 mail delivery vehicles that are driven 4.3 million miles per day. More than 141,000 are aging Grumman LLVs, which average only 10 miles per gallon. This vehicle first entered service in 1987, and the majority have reached the end of their 24-year operational lifespan. Fueling these vehicles comes at a high cost: in FY 2010, the petroleum fuel bill for all postal transportation totaled $1.7 billion. And, since 2005, the Postal Service has marked a 6.4% increase in petroleum use.

“The Postal Service is crippled by an inefficient, outdated fleet, and the vast majority of these vehicles are reaching the end of their operational lives,” Congressman Huffman said. “The FLEET Act will help us invest in a modern, efficient Postal Service fleet. Our nation’s largest civilian fleet should serve as a global leader in efficiency and innovation.”

Huffman also spoke about the FLEET Act on the House floor earlier this month. Click HERE to view that speech:

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“The time is long overdue for the Postal Service to replace its deteriorating and inefficient postal vehicle fleet,” Congressman Connolly said. “Maintenance costs for this aging fleet continue to increase and the average fuel consumption for these vehicles is abysmal, dramatically increasing delivery costs. USPS must address this vulnerability and I am proud to join Congressman Huffman to introduce the FLEET Act. This legislation will empower the Postal Service to optimize its delivery process by acquiring new vehicles with much lower operational costs and the added benefit of reduced emissions.”

The FLEET Act sets minimum fuel economy and tailpipe standards for the purchase of new vehicles. Under this bill, all newly purchased vehicles would be required to have an average fuel economy of 34.1 mpg and emissions of carbon dioxide may not exceed, on average, 250 grams per mile, bringing the Postal Service in line with industry average requirements set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.

While the rest of the federal fleet is making critical strides to reduce petroleum consumption, the Postal Service is exempt from an Executive Order signed by President Obama in 2009 requiring the federal vehicle fleet to reduce petroleum use by 30 percent by 2020.

The FLEET Act also provides tools to help cover the cost of upgrading their fleets. The Act allows the Postal Service to enter into Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs), public-private partnerships between the USPS and private companies to improve and implement efficiency programs while paying for the measures with the anticipated savings over time. ESPCs are routinely used by the Department of the Army, Department of Energy, and other federal agencies.

A summary of the FLEET Act may be found below:

  • Requires the United States Postal Service (USPS) to reduce their petroleum consumption by 2% every year over the next 10 years, saving an estimated $400 million, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.
  • Sets minimum fuel efficiency and tailpipe emission standards for all new fleet vehicles (34.1 mpg, CO2 emissions may not exceed, on average, 250 grams per mile,)
  • USPS shall incorporate new technologies into postal routes that increase fuel economy or reduce tailpipe emissions. The use of new technologies shall be used to inform purchasing decisions.
  • USPS must replace old vehicles that require large amounts of costly unscheduled maintenance.
  • USPS is provided some funding tools to help cover the cost of upgrading their fleet, such as Energy Savings Performance Contracts.
  • USPS must report to Congress annually on their progress.

"Despite having to rely upon an aging fleet of vehicles desperately in need of repair or replacement, the USPS continues to change to meet its demand for increased deliveries and a growing parcel market.  However, to be able to adequately meet these needs in the future and best serve the American Public we are in need of a new modern fleet of vehicles, one which can handle increased volume of mail and parcels and reduce fuel costs," said John Beaumont, President, California State Association of Letter Carriers.

"U.S. Postal Service vehicles travel millions of miles delivering the mail. All Americans will benefit from reduced carbon pollution and lower costs when mail carriers drive the most efficient possible vehicles. And all drivers will benefit when the Postal Service is using its buying power to help automakers push the technological boundaries and supply those vehicles. Federal leadership on high-efficiency fleets is another way that the Postal Service can save money, reduce carbon pollution, and deliver for the American people," said Gina Coplon-Newfield, Director of Future Fleet and Electric Vehicles Initiative, Sierra Club.

“The postal service operates one of the world’s largest vehicle fleets. Reducing fuel use from its 200,000 vehicles -- which travel more than a billion miles a year -- is a great way to cut our oil consumption,” said David Cooke, vehicles analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “This is an excellent opportunity for Congressman Huffman and his colleagues to save taxpayers money and reduce global warming emissions. Overall, better transportation policy could cut our projected oil consumption in half over the next twenty years. This bill is a step in the right direction. ”

“By encouraging the U.S. Postal Service to operate a more fuel-efficient fleet, the FLEET Act would cut the service's operating costs and reduce its carbon pollution. This is a win-win proposition. And Congress should deliver, “said Franz A. Matzner, Associate Director of Government Affairs, Natural Resources Defense Council.

The FLEET Act has been endorsed by the following organizations: The California State Association of Letter Carriers, Union of Concerned Scientists, National Resource Defense Council (NRDC), the Sierra Club, and the Federal Performance Contracting Coalition (FPCC)

A transcript of Congressman Huffman’s speech on the House Floor may be found below:

“Thank you Madam Speaker.

Improving the fuel efficiency of our cars and trucks is one of the most important things that we can do to fight climate change.

And thanks to an Executive Order signed by President Obama, the federal vehicle fleet is becoming more efficient. By 2020, it will reduce petroleum use by 30 percent, saving money and cleaning the air.

But the United States Postal Service—which owns and operates the world’s largest civilian fleet—is exempt from this critical effort and is headed in the wrong direction on fossil fuel consumption. 

141,000 of their vehicles, nearly three quarters of their delivery fleet, are aging Grumman LLVs, the old mail truck we see in our neighborhoods every day. Most get less than 10 miles per gallon and they’re reaching the end of their operational lifespan. To save money and cut emissions, the Postal Service desperately needs a modern, efficient fleet.

And that’s why I am introducing the FLEET Act—Federal Leadership in Energy Efficient Transportation—to close the fuel efficiency gap between the Postal Service and other modern fuel-efficient fleets.

A quarter of our nation’s greenhouse gases are emitted in the transportation sector. It’s time to take our worst fleet and make it into our best fleet.”