No. The BradCast is not letting this one go. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]
As we discussed in some detail last week, the U.S. Postal Service, under the corrupt direction of Donald Trump's still-in-his-post-for-some-reason Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, is about to spend more than $11 billion to replace the Service's mail delivery truck fleet. Based on an absurdly (and, as our guest today argues, purposely) flawed economic and environmental study, the USPS will be purchasing 165,000 new delivery trucks with just 10% of them being fully electric. The rest will burn at least 110,000 gallons of fuel each year (and likely much more), getting just over a ridiculous 8 miles per gallon --- or as much as 14 when the AC is turned off!
That means, as our guest recently wrote, the new trucks, comprising about 30% of the federal government's automotive fleet, will burn through "a jaw-dropping 2 to 4 billion gallons of fuel" over their expected 20-year lifetime. All of this in the middle of a dangerously worsening climate crisis for the planet and as President Biden is vowing to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade.
Last week, the EPA and White House Council on Environmental Quality wrote a letter to the USPS, objecting to the plan and essentially begging the quasi-independent Executive Branch agency to review their flawed environmental analysis to consider electrifying the entire fleet instead.
DeJoy, meanwhile, is claiming they can't afford to do that, despite being flush with more than $20 billion in pandemic cash from the federal government. And the Postal Service PR team is busy greenwashing all of this as "real sustainability" for "a cleaner world", as their website explains how they are "updating our fleet with fuel-efficient vehicles to help do our part." How do they make such an absurd claim? Well, the new fleet, as it turns out, will be 0.4 miles per gallon more efficient than the existing fleet that's been in use since the 1980s!
As if all of this isn't obscene enough, earlier this week, VICE's Aaron Gordon reported that the newly designed gasoline-powered trucks, estimated to clock in at 8,501 pounds with mail on board --- "almost double the weight of the current USPS delivery vehicle" --- means they will avoid the EPA's new fuel efficiency standards for "light duty" trucks, which are limited to, as luck would have it, 8,500 pounds! If they were just .01 pound lighter, he reports, they would likely be illegal.
Yes. It is all as outrageous --- and insane --- and corrupt --- as it sounds.
We're joined today by ADRIAN MARTINEZ, Senior Attorney for EarthJustice, a non-profit environmental law group where he works on clean air, clean energy, and other environmental justice issues. Martinez details more evidence of how the USPS environmental study appears to have been purposely "flawed, and took every effort to make internal combustion gas-guzzling trucks look good and electric vehicles look bad," to justify buying nearly 165,000 polluting vehicles at this critical moment.
"The environmental analysis assumes that gas will be $2.50 a gallon in 2040," he explains. "You can barely find a place in the country where it is $2.50 a gallon now! But they assume gas prices will remain low. And so what that does is it makes their calculations for the total cost of ownership of a gas-guzzling truck look better than it should be. They did this on a range of different issues and it really resulted in an analysis that was faulty and reckless, to be completely candid."
"To call these vehicles 'fuel efficient' is laughable," Martinez tells me. "There is nothing sustainable about this decision. In fact, it's the opposite. We're in 2022, and having to have this debate is just absurd."
Of course, the Postal Service is doing its best to avoid this "debate" entirely. Both the EPA and the state of California have asked the Service to hold public hearings on the matter, before they purchase tens of thousands of new gas-powered trucks from Wisconsin-based military contractor, Oshkosh Defense (maker of heavy-duty armored vehicles.) To date, they have not agreed to public hearings or to even take public comment. Martinez says that his organization has collected more than 20,000 public comments to give to the Service, which told them over the weekend "we're not accepting comments on the environmental document at this time."
Martinez has much more today on the "brazen" responses from the USPS under DeJoy's command, which is apparently also ignoring a recent letter from 16 U.S. Senators similarly asking them to electrify the fleet. We also discuss why the hell DeJoy is still in his job at all, and what you and the rest of the public can do about all of this. (Desi also has an interesting idea along those lines as well.) If all else fails, Martinez suggests, there are legal options that his group and others are likely to take in court under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
Also today, two other items of note. Only one of them is really disturbing. A newly developing story broke last night based on a (partially redacted) letter to the CIA Director and the Director of National Intelligence, from Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM), released late on Thursday night. The letter suggests there is some sort of very troubling data collection going at at the CIA. The unredacted portions cryptically describe a "secret bulk collection program" that "has been kept from the public and from Congress" and that is "entirely outside the statutory framework that Congress and the public believe govern this collection, and without any of the judicial, congressional or even executive branch oversight that comes with [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] collection."
What does that all mean? We don't yet know enough yet for certain to tell ya. But it seems worth noting, as I would expect more on this story to develop in the days ahead.
And, finally, we close with some news --- with an excellent Bowie tune to go with it --- about how we are all getting just a little bit closer to being able to escape this increasingly unlivable planet one day for good. That said, the options out there in the universe aren't yet particularly appetizing. So, it would be much better to electrify the mail delivery fleet instead!...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)