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New EPA Program Could Threaten Avgas Availability

EAA working to ensure current and future GA fuel supply

October 16, 2008 — Announcements made by the Environmental Protection Agency today could further tighten the screws on our nation's general aviation fuel supply, making EAA's ongoing advocacy and work on fuel-related issues increasingly relevant and urgent.

The EPA announced a broad-sweeping program of air-quality testing and monitoring to enforce newly adopted, and considerably more stringent, standards for allowable levels of lead. This program entails EPA scrutiny of numerous industries and commercial activities involving lead emissions. As part of this effort, the EPA will direct state governments to examine whether general-aviation activity at certain airports contributes to unacceptable levels of lead in the air. The new standards lower the allowable amount of lead to one-tenth of previously accepted levels.

"We're encountering on two fronts increased pressure on the availability of fuel for piston-powered aircraft," said Earl Lawrence, EAA vice president of industry and regulatory affairs. "For those whose aircraft may operate on unleaded autogas, we've had to fight on a state-by-state basis to try to preserve a supply that does not contain ethanol or other additives not approved for aviation use. Now, with today's EPA announcements, we're also seeing the potential for restrictions on aircraft running on leaded fuel in a given area."

The EPA indicates that testing and monitoring must first reveal whether any such restrictions will become necessary. In cases where monitoring confirms that an airport region's air exceeds allowable lead limits, the respective state government will be required to resolve the issue…which could mean restrictions on aircraft operations using 100LL avgas.

"There isn't enough data to predict whether aircraft burning of 100LL in any airport region will cause lead levels to exceed the new limits there. That's why the EPA must do all this testing and monitoring first," Lawrence said.

Meanwhile, EAA continues its work not only to address immediate fuel concerns, such as promoting the availability of usable unleaded fuel and advocating against undue restrictions on leaded fuel, but also to help develop alternatives for the future.

"Innovative spirit, creativity, and industriousness are hallmarks of the EAA community. As pressure on the use of traditional aircraft fuels continues to mount, this community of dedicated enthusiasts who understand the value of general aviation will surely contribute to solutions," Lawrence said.

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