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Vermont Joins Lawsuit Against U.S. Postal Service

November 9, 2021

Postal Service Adopts Plan Without Public Input That Could Slow Mail & Increase Costs

Contact: Charity R. Clark, Chief of Staff, 802-828-3171

Attorney General T.J. Donovan today announced that Vermont has joined a coalition of nineteen states and the District of Columbia in a complaint against the U.S. Postal Service. The Postal Service recently adopted a ten-year plan to overhaul its operations, with a primary goal of making the organization more financially sustainable. The effect of the plan, however, could increase the cost of most mail and slow nearly 40 percent of mail nationwide. The plan also has the potential to shutter Postal Service offices in rural areas, presenting significant concerns for Attorney General Donovan. In the complaint, initially filed on October 7, 2021, the coalition claims that the Postal Service violated federal law by adopting these significant and nationwide changes without first requesting an advisory opinion from the Federal Postal Regulatory Commission, which allows for public input.

“The U.S. Postal Service is implementing major changes that could increase cost, decrease speed, and close rural offices,” said Attorney General Donovan. “Before making changes this significant, the Postal Service is legally required to hear from the public. But the Postal Service skipped that step. Vermonters rely on the mail system, and we’re asking that they be heard.”

Under federal law, when the Postal Service plans to change its operations in a substantial way, it must first seek an “advisory opinion” from the federal Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). The PRC is an independent federal agency meant to bring transparency and accountability to the Postal Service’s operations. As part of developing an advisory opinion, the PRC allows for public input on the proposal under review. The Postal Service did not seek an advisory opinion from the PRC on its ten-year plan. Vermont has joined other states in filing a complaint with the PRC to force the Postal Service to undertake the PRC Advisory Opinion process. That process would give the public an opportunity to weigh in on the plan.

Attorney General Donovan is joined in this complaint by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington.

A copy of the complaint is available here.