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Source: Dunkirk Observer

Higgins: mail facility closing violates policy act

Posted: January 23, 2012
Originally Published: January 23, 2012

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) says the United States Postal Service's (USPS) plan to close the Buffalo mail processing facility fails to include an environmental impact analysis and therefore is a violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Consequently the Congressman is asking The White House Council on Environmental Quality to put the USPS on notice for their failure to comply with national environmental requirements.

Higgins asserted, "The Postal Service has arbitrarily chosen the Buffalo facility for closure. Their justification is non-existent, their public notification is negligible but they can't ignore the undeniable environmental impact their actions would have and their legal obligations to review and report on that impact before making a decision."

"Increased truck traffic and the associated increase in harmful emissions warrants rigorous environmental review," said Brian Smith, CCE Program and Communications Director. "Citizens Campaign for the Environment strongly supports Congressman Higgins request to ensure that NEPA is followed."

Below is a copy of Congressman Higgins' letter:

January 20, 2012

Hon. Nancy Sutley


The Council on Environmental Quality

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, DC 20500

Re: USPS Buffalo Closure Plan Violates NEPA

Dear Ms. Sutley:

Efforts by the United States Postal Service (USPS) to close the William Street Processing and Distribution Center in Buffalo, NY, clearly violate the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). As such, I write today to request that the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) put the USPS on notice for its violation of the law and join me in demanding full compliance.

As you are aware, the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended and as interpreted through regulation and the courts, establishes a rigorous rubric with which to vet the decisions of federal agencies with regard to their environmental impact. NEPA sets forth that actions with adverse environmental impacts should be avoided, and if they cannot be avoided they should be mitigated. The environmental review required by the Act and its associated regulations calls for, at minimum, a rigorous and open alternatives analysis and a consultation with other stakeholder agencies within and without the federal government with an interest and/or expertise in the subject area. NEPA also vests the CEQ with responsibility for overseeing government agencies' compliance with NEPA.

I submit to you that there has been no transparent alternatives analysis in the USPS deliberations relative to this facility. The USPS has provided no evidence that consideration was given to any alternative consolidation arrangement. Further, there has been no consultation with stakeholder agencies such as the EPA, the US DOT, the NYS DEC, the NYS DOT, or the NYS Thruway Authority, as required by law.

The negative environmental impact of the USPS proposal is clear. Under this proposal, mail originating in and delivered within Erie County, NY would first be shipped back and forth some 70 miles to Monroe County, NY. Using standard estimators for pollution resulting from diesel trucks, it is evident that the proposed action would have a significantly negative environmental impact as it would introduce the following amounts of recognized pollutants into the atmosphere annually:

  • Volatile Organic Compounds: 2,705 lbs.
  • Carbon Monoxide: 10,627 lbs.
  • Oxides of Nitrogen: 77,865 lbs.
  • Particulate Matter: 1,642 lbs.
  • Carbon Dioxide: 24,683 tons
  • In addition to violating NEPA, the proposed action also would be clearly contrary to the Postal Service's own stated environmental policy goals. Their "FY 2011 Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan" calls for a 20 percent reduction in "contracted transportation petroleum fuel use by FY 2020." This action flies in the face of that goal.
  • Again, I respectfully request that the Council put the USPS on notice for its violation of the law and join me in demanding their full compliance with NEPA and its associated regulations. Thank you very much for your consideration and your leadership.


Brian Higgins

Member of Congress