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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedEPA clarifies avgas replacement process: No deadline, and FAA has major role
By Joseph E. (Jeb) Burnside
In a letter Monday to the General Aviation Avgas Coalition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acknowledged it has no jurisdiction to regulate the fuel an aircraft burns and has not established a deadline by which aviation gasoline’s lead content must be reduced. The EPA statements should help ease concerns expressed by many AirVenture attendees regarding when and how GA will transition to an ultra-low or no-lead gasoline to replace 100LL.

Those concerns stem from a notice EPA published earlier this year requesting public comments on whether leaded aviation gasoline poses a health threat and, if so, how it could be minimized or eliminated. In response—and as AirVenture Today reported earlier this week—EAA and other organizations formed the General Aviation Avgas Coalition with the stated goal of identifying an avgas replacement process. Monday’s EPA statement clarifies both the timetable associated with that effort and bolstered one of the coalition’s major goals: ensuring the FAA adopts a leadership role.

The letter—written by Margo Tsirigotis Oge, director of the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality—states the “EPA has not established or proposed any date by which lead emissions from aircraft operating on leaded avgas would need to be reduced. In fact, EPA does not have authority to control aviation fuels.” Oge noted the EPA is responsible for determining which chemical or physical properties of a fuel or fuel additive endangers the public health.

Instead, only the FAA has the authority to regulate which fuels aircraft may burn. “[H]ence, the EPA is coordinating closely with FAA as we evaluate emissions of lead from piston-engine aircraft,” Oge added.

“We see EPA’s announcement as a positive step in finding a safe, viable alternative to 100LL,” said Tom Poberezny, EAA chairman/president. “It reaffirms there is no immediate threat to the availability of 100LL as we pursue a long-term solution to identify and transition to an unleaded fuel.”

Finally, the EPA assured the coalition it recognizes the value of general aviation—especially piston-powered general aviation—to the nation and the national economy. “EPA recognizes the value of piston-engine general aviation throughout the United States and specifically in remote regions,” wrote Oge.

“Any EPA action to require piston-engine aircraft to reduce emissions of lead in the future will involve a thorough public process of identifying options and will consider safety, economic impacts, and other impacts. The EPA is committed to working with these stakeholders to keep piston-engine aircraft flying in an environmentally acceptable and safe manner throughout the United States,” Oge concluded.

EAA is a founding member of the General Aviation Avgas Coalition and is working to develop the public/private sector process by which reduced- or no-lead alternatives to 100LL are developed and implemented. Monday’s letter from the EPA helps clarify the timetable under which the coalition will work and emphasizes the FAA must be formally involved in those efforts.

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