NATA: Avgas Suit Could Shut Down California GA

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A notice of intended lawsuit targets California FBOs saying that supplying and using leaded aviation gasoline violates the California Safe Drinking Water & Toxic Enforcement Act (Prop 65), and Friday the FBOs fought back. The suit is being brought by the Center for Environmental Health and the Attorney General of the State of California. The coalition of FBOs has won the support of NATA and Friday filed a response asking a judge to issue an injunction that would stop the imposition of civil penalties. According to NATA, elements of the suit "would shut down the entire piston-engine aircraft fleet in California and end all flight training at the named airports." There are, of course, potential local and federal complications.

The FAA has exclusive oversight of aviation safety and the EPA oversees environmental regulation of aircraft emissions. According to NATA, the litigation "threatens to interfere with obvious federal interests in aviation safety and aircraft engine emissions policy." Those issues are currently being addressed at the federal level, NATA said, with cooperation between the FAA and EPA, along with general aviation advocacy groups like GAMA, EAA and AOPA and NATA, itself.  The suit follows a notice of violation that claims FBOs failed to inform residents near airports that aircraft emissions contain lead. It proposes "remedies" that range from banning the sale of leaded avgas to forcing cleanup of allegedly contaminated drinking water to imposing civil penalties. Affecting the sale of leaded aviation fuel in California would in turn affect operations at 254 public-use airports in the state, the 99,594 pilots who call it home, and 37,128 general aviation aircraft that fly on leaded avgas, according to NATA.