Bennet Joins 12 Senate Democrats in Effort to Ramp Up Electrification of Federal Vehicles

Speeding Transition to Electric Vehicles will Advance U.S. Leadership, Clean Air, and Climate Security

Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined 12 Senate Democratic colleagues in a letter to President Joe Biden announcing forward-looking proposals to help the administration ramp up the electrification of the federal vehicle fleet.

Bennet and the senators wrote, “As you know, the transportation sector produces more carbon dioxide emissions than any other part of the U.S. economy. We stand ready to help your administration lead by example and decarbonize the federal vehicle fleet, supporting job creation and U.S. competitiveness as we address climate change and mobile source pollution.”

Biden recently directed his administration to develop a comprehensive plan to create good jobs and stimulate domestic clean energy industries by purchasing additional clean and zero-emission vehicles for the federal government fleet. In the letter, the senators highlight several opportunities where the Biden Administration can make real progress and ensure that federal dollars are not locked into decades of carbon-intensive transportation.

In the letter, Bennet and his colleagues called for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to issue a stop-order on current acquisition pursuits, and instead prioritize the electrification of its fleet.

“The stakes for our transportation sector’s carbon footprint could not be higher, as USPS operates over 200,000 vehicles and consumes 195 million gallons of gasoline each year. Current bids for the USPS fleet include gas-powered and hybrid options that would lock in 25 years or more of USPS gasoline consumption. It will only make it more difficult to meet our collective decarbonization goals if the USPS misses this critical opportunity to electrify,” wrote Bennet and the senators.

Bennet and his colleagues also noted that the General Services Administration (GSA) can take several important steps to drive electric vehicle (EV) procurement. Among other measures, the senators suggested that the Biden Administration issue an order for the GSA to purchase hundreds of thousands of EVs to increase market competition and expand production investments, and invest in and install charging stations in federal buildings and on federal land.

“By creating a single updated, government-wide fleet management system, the federal government can fast-track electrification, command savings and track its progress on fleet modernization,” wrote Bennet and the senators.

They also requested that the Biden Administration purchase electric vehicles with a total cost of ownership (TCO) that is within range of their conventional gas-powered counterparts to set a strong example for other institutional actors across the country. Because electric vehicles have low maintenance costs and no gas bills, they increasingly can be substantially cheaper that gas-powered alternatives when TCO is considered.

“We are pleased to see the early support you have shown for vehicle electrification and sharply reducing the carbon footprint of the federal fleet. We look forward to continuing to work with you through the budget process or in passing legislation to achieve these important national goals,” wrote Bennet and his colleagues. 

Bennet has a long record of supporting climate solutions like transitioning the federal fleet to electric vehicles. Bennet is a co-sponsor of the Clean School Bus Act, which would provide funding and incentives for schools to transition their bus fleets to zero-emission electric vehicles. Bennet led a bill to block the Trump Administration’s effort to weaken clean car standards and joined an amicus brief opposing a Trump Administration attack on those standards.

In addition to Bennet, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawai’i), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Angus King (I-Maine), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.).

The text of the letter is available HERE and below.

Dear Mr. President:

We write to thank you for your leadership on transportation electrification and your commitment to electrify the federal fleet of vehicles. As you know, the transportation sector produces more carbon dioxide emissions than any other part of the U.S. economy. We stand ready to help your administration lead by example and decarbonize the federal vehicle fleet, supporting job creation and U.S. competitiveness as we address climate change and mobile source pollution.

As you explore ways to marshal federal resources and drive the procurement of electric vehicles (EVs), we want to highlight several key opportunities to make real progress and ensure that federal dollars do not lock us into decades of carbon-intensive transport.

United States Postal Service: The United States Postal Service (USPS) is expected to finalize its years-long Next Generation Delivery Vehicle acquisition process in the coming months.

However, we suggest the agency has the authority to instead issue a stop order and to pursue electrification of its fleet. The stakes for our transportation sector’s carbon footprint could not be higher, as USPS operates over 200,000 vehicles and consumes 195 million gallons of gasoline each year. Current bids for the USPS fleet include gas-powered and hybrid options that would lock in 25 years or more of USPS gasoline consumption. It will only make it more difficult to meet our collective decarbonization goals if the USPS misses this critical opportunity to electrify.

In fact, Sec. 50002 of the Moving Forward Act authorizes an additional $6 billion for USPS if at least 75% of their new fleet are zero emission vehicles. Savings in fuel, maintenance, and social costs will pay back that $6 billion investment in less than 10 years compared to a gas-powered fleet. We support this strategic investment and are certain additional appropriations for USPS will similarly command a focus on fleet electrification moving forward. Therefore, we are calling on the USPS to reorient its procurement process to take full advantage of this valuable opportunity to electrify the USPS fleet.

General Services Administration: As part of your fleet electrification goals, the General Services Administration (GSA) can take several important steps to drive EV procurement. The Administration should issue an order for GSA to purchase hundreds of thousands of EVs based on competitive bids for multi-year contracts to give EV manufacturers confidence to expand and invest in production. In addition, GSA should rescind delegated authorities for agency vehicle ownership and instead unify fleet management and acquisition. By creating a single updated, government-wide fleet management system, the federal government can fast-track electrification, command savings and track its progress on fleet modernization.

In addition, GSA should help support an electrified federal fleet by investing in and installing charging stations in all federal buildings and on federal land. The Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office, the National Renewable Energy Lab and GSA’s own Proving Ground and Emerging Technology program can aid this effort by providing technical support on charging use cases and needs. This investment is needed to support fleet changeover. Beyond that, it will also serve as an example of effective organizational change and demonstrate for subnational leaders and even commercial interests how large-scale electrification and infrastructure buildout can become a reality.

Total Cost of Ownership: As part of any procurement model, the Administration should purchase electric vehicles with a total cost of ownership (TCO) that is within range of their conventional gas-powered counterparts. Current procurement practices either neglect TCO considerations or disincentivize agencies from going electric with a singular focus on upfront costs. But major fleet buyers–like the federal government–can easily assess how higher capital costs are offset by low operating costs and create net present value savings to drive procurement.

To establish a baseline TCO, the administration should take into account the operating costs of vehicles, including fuel, maintenance, and public health savings. GSA should direct DOE to develop a TCO which uses statewide variables, regional variables, and inventory variables to estimate the cost for fleet conversion to electric vehicles. Importantly, as already established as part of the Administration’s early executive orders, taking into account the social cost of carbon is an important variable for TCO calculations and sets a strong example for other institutional actors across our economy.

We are pleased to see the early support you have shown for vehicle electrification and sharply reducing the carbon footprint of the federal fleet. We look forward to continuing to work with you through the budget process or in passing legislation to achieve these important national goals.

Sincerely,