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California Avgas Suit Fuels Surcharge

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Some California FBOs are imposing a nickel-per-gallon surcharge on 100LL fuel sales to fund a legal defense and a counter lawsuit filed against an environmental group that's trying to restrict leaded avgas from the California market. The FBOs, which are part of the California Avgas Coalition, are countersuing the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) and the California Attorney General's office. The defense was mounted after CEH filed its own suit seeking damages under California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, otherwise known as Proposition 65, which lists lead as a cancer-causing agent. Under Prop 65, plaintiffs are entitled to 25 percent of any damages awarded.

Aviation Consultants Inc, which operates as ACI Jet Center, has been a part of the California Avgas Coalition for more than a year. ACI serves California's central coast with two busy jet centers and one self-serve fuel facility and recently posted announcements to customers of the five-cent per gallon charge. Andrew Robillard, ACI's Vice President of FBOs and Operations, told AVweb that one of their main objectives is to educate avgas buyers about the threatened state of leaded fuel in California. "We have found that all of our clients have continued to support us, despite the surcharge. The most common reaction we receive from customers is frustration directed toward the Center for Environmental Health. In addition, we've found that several of our clients were unaware of the California Avgas Coalition or the defense against CEH." He also expressed a concern that costs associated with the lawsuit and the potential consequences will not stop at the state line.

FBOs and distributors share equal amounts of financial exposure. Despite support from several alphabets including EAA, AOPA and NATA, FBOs and fuel distributors could face dire financial consequences given the penalties that accrue with Prop 65 violations. NATA warns that the issue could ultimately be counterproductive and hinder the efforts in eliminating lead from avgas. Aviation Consultants Inc. owns and operates the San Luis Jet Center (KSBP), Paso Robles Jet Center (KPRB) and Oceano Fuel Service (L52). The price of fuel is the same at all three locations. The current price of self-serve 100L at ACI's San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles and Oceano Fuel Service is $5.37 per gallon, including the surcharge.

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