Alaska Senator Blasts FAA Reauthorization On Unleaded Fuel Requirement


On the Senate floor, Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan angrily addressed the FAA Reauthorization bill, which includes provisions for transitioning to unleaded aviation gasoline by 2030. The senator had proposed a four-year extension to 2034 for Alaska, which was cut to two years in negotiations.

Sullivan argues that Alaska is different from the lower 48 states in that its residents rely more heavily on general aviation, and many of the GA aircraft use 100LL leaded fuel. Statistics presented by the senator show more than 200 communities in Alaska that are unreachable by road and that there are 8,734 aircraft registered in Alaska (3% of all aircraft in the U.S.)—or 12 aircraft for every 1,000 residents. It’s unclear how many of those aircraft are piston-powered and how many of those would rely on a high-octane drop-in replacement for 100LL, such as GAMI’s G100UL, or how many could operate safely on lower-octane lead-free fuels such as Swift 94UL. One local news outlet incorrectly reported that all the engines in older aircraft would need to be replaced.

Sullivan said on the Senate floor, “I’m sick of Alaska being the target of Senate Democrats and this President at nearly every possible opportunity, all to appease their environmental activist friends with heavy wallets; aka ‘eco-colonialists.’ They say they care about the rights of Indigenous Americans, yet they don’t listen to their concerns, and they undermine their economic opportunities and safety all the time because that’s what the eco-colonialists do.”

In a post on X, Sullivan wrote of his request for a four-year extension, “The Chair and Ranking Member of the Commerce Committee—Democrat Maria Cantwell and Republican Ted Cruz—both supported this exemption. But, without any data supporting the move, the EPW Committee Democratic staff slashed Alaska’s four-year implementation extension in half.”

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.


    • Squared! It’s about time someone stood up to the eco-terrorist bureaucrats in Washington and represented their constituents.

    • He grew up in Ohio and got a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard and a law degree from Georgetown, you know, like most Alaskan’s do.

      • What’s THAT got to do with the price of tea in China, Don? The guy now lives in Alaska and represents his constituents there. I didn’t grow up where I live now but I’m a resident. Geesh !!

        • First off Larry did you know that Iran is the eighth largest tea producer in the world? I would have never guessed that. Second I bet gray whales spend more time in Alaska than Senator Sullivan does. Third, I just think it’s funny that he went to Harvard since a lot of people on your side of the runway are always finding fault with democrats that go to Ivy League schools. But on a serious note, this is a bill to reauthorize the FAA and NTSB. It is facing a deadline of this Friday to get past, but politicians, from both sides, are trying to attach items that have nothing to do with aviation or are things that should be dealt with separately from this bill. Even Ted Cruz is trying to push this through without playing the attachment game. Senator Sullivan is grandstanding and playing politics. He’s part of the problem in Washington and he should, and does, know better.

          • If you want to comment on the subjet’ du jour, Don … feel free. Attacking ME isn’t part of that … have YOU heard of the First Amendment? Further, which “side of the runway” my hangar is on is none of your business. And where the Rep went to school is likewise non of your business.

          • Stop playing the victim card. None of my comments attacked you or were even directed at you except for the comment about the tea. I would remind you however, that the first amendment is a two way street. If you don’t want someone to make a comment about one of your posts, stop posting. Finally, being familiar with the education and background of our elected officials should be of vital interest to every citizen, regardless of whether there is a D or an R next to their name.

  1. ‘eco-colonialists’, ‘eco-terrorists’…over-the-top language is all the rage these days, huh?

    • It’s not at all new. The wingnuts send them money for every instance. We need to rip out all the campaign finance rules, but the clowns like the status quo so it ain’t gonna happen.
      If anyone reading this thinks it’s a partisan statement it’s a reflection of their own bias. The nuttiness is clearly bipartisan to anyone willing to look.

      • Be careful that your cure is not worse than the disease, Old Eric. The only thing keeping our elections even remotely open to us less-fiscally-endowed is all those campaign finance rules. Without them, high political offices will be (as they once were) claimed by the highest bidder, or more often, his wholly-owned ventriloquist dummy.

        OTOH, Seward’s Folly has always been a special case among US states. It seems reasonable to include a carve-out for their unique circumstances. Senator Sullivan fired the first salvo, got the attention of the committee, a small accommodation, and we’re on to the next verse of “I’m Just a Bill”. There’s still a lot sausage left to grind before everyone gets their panties in a twist.

        And people wonder why we can’t fund the FAA without “continuing resolutions” …

        • I disagree. Seems to me there’s a certain floor of financial support needed, but spending beyond that doesn’t necessarily pay off. Clinton outspent Trump for example.
          Seems to me the rules favor incumbents first and last.
          There are surely some reasonable rules that are perhaps desirable, but the existing system is a hopeless mess.
          Start over, I say.

      • How anyone can look at the situation in American politics and think that removing campaign finance laws is the solution… that’s way beyond me. You’re actively asking for an oligarchy rather than a democracy at this point. But we digress.

  2. He is spot on, this administration and his party are forging full speed ahead with a plan that makes them feel good but is technically full of holes. Of course they don’t care. They buy their carbon credits and continue living their lifestyles while telling the rest of us to suck wind.

  3. i have a new IO-550 in my airplane still under warranty, CMTechnical “The use of fuels that are not approved for your engine, will void your warranty” G100UL is not approved!

    • Sure it is. There is approved data supporting a supplemental type certificate. That’s the very definition of approved. It doesn’t get any MORE approved.

      • Continental M-O manual Table 7-2 Authorized Fuels by Engine Model does not include G100UL. Mr. Cateli CMTechnical sent me an email, using G100UL would void my warranty!

  4. 1. I didn’t know that new technology comes about by congressional legislation. Laws can enable the development of technology, but mandate it, and its universal accessibility by a specific date?

    2. The hurdles that will keep this from happening in five and a half years include regulations that Congress itself mandated in previous legislation or directed agencies to implement. These were passed or implemented with the public interest in mind, but they do keep government programs from operating quickly and responsively to emerging needs.

  5. I am an Alaskan. I have often said, “To survive in Alaska, you can’t be a complainer. True Alaskan’s only complain about one thing: the Federal Government.” Case in point.

  6. Have been to Alaska many times. Yes – GA is a major form of transportation and commercial delivery. Sure 2034 is fine for Alaska, but please don’t stifle it for the rest of us aircraft owners. The sooner G100UL gas gets to me, the sooner I start saving money and protecting my airplane engine. BS it’s not about the environment. If anyone in this thread think it’s about eco-terrorists, then sell your airplane and quit flying…you’re just hypocrites.

    • I’m not trying to flame you. Your comment is interesting in that you feel that 100UL will save you money! And I wonder how it protects an engine any better than 100LL
      I think we are all in agreement that saving money is good, but where do you see using 100UL will save you money?

  7. So all of this is about two years, 2032 versus 2034? The move away from leaded fuel, in Alaska, is going to take eight more years and that still isn’t enough time?

  8. This is just ‘Political Theater’ – Essential Air Service (EAS) dictates the aircraft type. Most every community that has a Post Office is getting Turbine Aircraft service already. By 2030 EAS will require those communities only have aircraft service that do not use 100LL. The other locations that don’t get EAS money will figure out something. Maybe they’ll do a Soloy Conversion?

    • The “service” provided by aircraft to residents of Alaska goes slightly beyond the delivery of mail by turbine aircraft.

  9. One would think that a Senator representing Alaska would want to preserve it, not pollute it!
    Lead is not necessary for engines; it was just one way to raise octane.
    Lead is not good for engines, people, or other animals.
    George Braly of GAMI knows more about engines and combustion than almost anyone in the aviation community; I will take his research backed word over the outdated myths and internet nonsense of others.

    • The danger to anything by using AvGas in the largest state in the union is nil.
      The benefit to using AvGas in the largest state in the union can mean life itself.
      Thinking people are glad that a Senator representing Alaska is thinking.

  10. Man, it is so easy to blame the government. Bad FAA for trying to move GA away from leaded fuel since the automotive industry did so some decades ago…for good reasons.

    Here’s a thought, blame aviation engine manufactures that did not want to spend money on R&D for better engines that can run not just on 100UL, but even top end UL like 93, or figure a way to run on Jet A without burning up the engine.

    The Government pushing regulations are these days about the only mechanism that can force businesses to change. How much lobbying has Lycoming or Continental done to keep 100LL around so they don’t have to change. A perfect example is this comment:

    “CMTechnical sent me an email, using G100UL would void my warranty!”

    Of course they did because the last thing they want to do is change.

    So, instead of just blaming the Government, maybe try throwing some shade at the aviation engine industry who seem to be missing a massive opportunity. the first company that could come up with a Mod to allow GA piston planes to use UL fuel could sell to market first and maybe make more money then just trying to sell really really expensive engines to fewer a fewer people. I bet pilot folks in Alaska would jump at getting in line first for such a mod, approved by the FAA of course.

    • Justin,
      If YOU think that designing and certifying and getting airframe STC’s and assuming liability if there is a problem is a way to make money, please go for it!

  11. Ah yes… because oil companies don’t have heavy wallets at all. Or donate to politicians. Or spend money on lobbying. It’s those pesky environmental scientists who are known for their huge pay checks.

  12. I want to see lead go away. It’s not a problem – at all – but our neighbors who are more emotionally oriented will not leave it alone so oh well. We will be better off without it – mostly the folks who work around the lead when mining and applying it to the fuel. But it really isn’t worth changing – except that some people are scared. And in the US these days, fear (irrational or otherwise) trumps all.

    But seriously people, can we please get adult and rational enough to realize that we can’t legislate progress? Research proceeds at its own pace no matter what any of want. Putting a time limit on this process is plain stupid. It is childish and ignorant of reality. It is embarrassing to us as a country as well.

    I agree that if we’re going to do this, let’s get it done. But outlawing the thing to be replaced on a certain date does nothing to assist, inspire or incentivize the progress that is necessary before replacement can occur. Were I a big politico type, I would create a crazy big award and tax incentive package for the first to the market to meet a set of parameters. You want it done – PAY someone to do it. THAT would get the job done as quickly as possible.

    But the current process of cutting off a portion of the public at a set date does nothing but make stupid people feel better. Let’s actually work on the problem and let those folks learn to address their fears. It’s better for them – and for society as well.

    • Sure, but the technology already exists — as it has for decades. Just like when the time came to phase out lead in automotive fuels, what it took to actually effect change was legislation.