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FAA administrator Randy Babbitt appeared to contradict Tuesday’s statement by the EPA that it doesn’t have the authority to regulate or control the use of tetraethyl lead in avgas. In answering a question at a press conference at EAAAirVenture on Wednesday, Babbitt said, in part, “We have some pretty good studies undergoing … ATSM process is developing the standards for new unleaded fuel and we’ve had some pretty good discussions with the EPA. They’ve been cooperative and helpful. The EPA of course has the ability and they have the statutory authority, in fact, to say there will be no more lead in fuel. We have asked them to please don’t get ahead of us. Let us develop the standards so that we will have an easily deliverable safe efficient fuel that performs just like 100 leaded fuel does today and let us get that in place and, the time track that we’re both on, I’m very comfortable that we will have a suitable deliverable alternative fuel long before the EPA says no more.” The EPA earlier this week offered a different understanding of its role.
On Tuesday, AOPA reported that EPA responded (PDF) to a request for clarification on the EPA’s position on the future of lead regulation and clean air standards. The Environmental Protection Agency told GA’s industry Avgas Coalition that the agency “has not established or proposed any date by which lead emissions from aircraft operating on leaded avgas would need to be reduced. In fact, the EPA does not have authority to control aviation fuels.” Again, Babbitt said Wednesday, “The EPA of course has the ability and they have the statutory authority, in fact, to say there will be no more lead in fuel.”