Alaska Senators Oppose EPA’s 100LL Avgas Endangerment Finding


A report published yesterday (Dec. 12) by Alaska Public Media notes that the state’s legislators are pushing back on the recent EPA endangerment finding on leaded aviation gasoline. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan have filed a resolution to reverse the EPA finding. Murkowski said, “This EPA decision could have a deeply negative impact on the affordability and accessibility of fuel, availability of travel, and safety for Alaskans across the state. It must be stopped.”

Sullivan added that the ruling could lead to “a devastating chain of events that could lead to supply train disruptions and severe price hikes for Alaskans.”

Noting that the general aviation industry, fuel suppliers and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have been working for years on a safe and orderly transition to unleaded aviation gasoline, the report also cites input from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. AOPA senior VP of government affairs Jim Coon said, “The EPA’s endangerment finding kicks off a multi-year regulatory process in which the FAA is now required to develop a pathway to an unleaded future for aviation. It’s very important to us, and I think everyone understands the need to do this safely and smartly.”

While the report acknowledges that lead exposure has been proven to be a significant health hazard, it also cites EPA findings that 99% of lead emissions have been eliminated since 1980, when the industry began phasing out leaded automotive gasoline. The news report cites AOPA’s Coon, who put the issue in perspective, noting, “The total number of gallons the [general aviation] fleet burns in a year amounts to what American cars burn in four hours on an average day.”

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.


  1. Leaded automobile gasoline wasn’t outlawed in 1980. I bought it up until the early 1990’s. It was just slowly taken off the market.

    Another well written and fact checked article. Even Nascar was still running Leaded fuels up until a few years ago.

    • The article didn’t say leaded auto gas was outlawed, only that “the industry began phasing [it out]” in 1980…

    • The report stated that” leaded gasoline started to be phased out in 1980 .”
      Not ” eliminated. ”
      We all bought leaded fuel for vehicles after 1980.

      • Welcome to rational thinking. People in the vast state of Alaska understand that the health risk of not having food and supplies far outway any theoretical risk from the amount of 100LL being used.

    • Yeah, well “sounds just weird” to me to “oppose” putting scientific risk in context and proportion. I think you should run right down to you doctor’s off today to be checked for lead poisoning. I’d bet you wouldn’t have it even if you were to spend every day at the airport and worked as an aircraft fueler.

  2. In 2007, NASCAR traded leaded for unleaded fuel. Researchers studied academic performance at schools near two Florida racetracks before and after the switch. They found lead exposure yielded lower scores on a state-mandated exam in the early 2000s, but performance rose consistently after 2007. 

    Two researchers who like auto racing set out to learn whether leaded gasoline, which fueled NASCAR contests well into the 2000s, hurt academic performance at schools near racetracks. 

    Evidently, it did. Their study, centered on a pair of high-profile Florida speedways at Daytona and Homestead, found that test scores rose steadily in schools near the tracks after 2007, when NASCAR switched to unleaded gas. 

    “Lead damages the part of your brain that’s responsible for things like memory,” said Ivan Rudik, an assistant professor of environmental economics at Cornell, who co-wrote the paper with three colleagues. “You could imagine that’s super-important for performing well on tests.” 

    The study, published in October by the Journal of Human Resources, took advantage of a natural experiment that began with NASCAR’s decision to delead its fuel. 

    Researchers found that lead exposure lowered student proficiency rates by 4.4 percentage points on Florida’s state-mandated exam of the early 2000s, the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT. They likened the effect to 16 weeks of lost instruction.    

    Test scores in schools near the Daytona and Homestead tracks rose consistently from the advent of lead-free NASCAR racing until 2014, when Florida changed its test. 

    The ill effects of lead on human brains is well-known. Another recent study estimates that leaded gasoline, alone, robbed Americans of a collective 824 million IQ points. 

    The Clean Air Act banned leaded gas in 1996 after two decades of declining use, a step now regarded as a public-health triumph. But the law exempted airplanes and race cars. Both industries depended on leaded fuel for engine performance.

    • Research that never actually tested Pb levels in the air? Their conclusion was reported to an accuracy of 1/10 of one percent?

      Excuse me but this a great example of junk science.

      • I don’t know about that study, but the toxic effects of elevated levels of lead have been studied extensively, and the Pb levels of environmental lead have indeed been shown to be higher in the immediate vicinity of GA airports. You can look the studies up yourself, as they are published and available online. Just Google “Technical Update: Reports on the Impact of Lead Emissions from Piston-Engine Aircraft on Air Quality Near U.S. Airports.” Given your anti-government bias, perhaps you need to research other sources. They are available. That said, I cannot attest to how much environmental lead (including in the air) affects children’s development, but there is indeed a correlation. If you don’t have kids, or grandchildren, maybe you don’t care. Or maybe you have been affected yourself. There are certainly examples of “junk” science, but lead exposure is not one of them. An equally concerning source of environmental lead endangerment comes from paint which was applied in buildings before lead paint was banned, and is especially notable in low-income housing. Much of the lead paint is being removed but it is an expensive process to do so.

        • I did read the Santa Clara report that they farmed out to Mountain Data Group. That’s WHY it’s an example of junk science. They were commissioned with the task to find a correlation in order for the county (Cindy Chavez) to close the airport. By ignoring all other sources as well as demographics, they “concluded” that it had to be the airport.

      • Go do something productive and research this topic extensively before you spit out ” junk science ” to everyone about everything.

        • YOU need to read the Mountain Data Group report. It is classic junk science. Seriously, read the report with a critical mind (scientific mind) and you see that they were not going for causal but for correlation. That is what that company does (that’s is their mission statement on their website). Look it up!

    • Did the studies take any other factors into consideration? You can draw any conclusion from data, it proves nothing without seeing the overall picture. If your point was fact the world population would be dumb as rocks since we have burned leaded fuel for decades.

      Junk science is correct.

    • NASCAR events were not the only races run at those facilities during that time frame. As an example – Daytona hosted their 24 hour endurance race each of those years, starting 45 to 60 cars, running 24 hours nonstop. They were not bound by NASCAR fuel rules. Same with the motorcycle race weeks.

    • The study sounds flawed. The lead exposure would have been minimal at best. Not a lot of activity at those tracks other then the races themselves. Other factors could be in play such as a general increase in Florida school performance for other reasons.

    • Spent my childhood in California sitting in a car that was sitting on a freeway with 100,000 other cars that were ALL running on LEADED fuel. So living next to a race track was worse than that??? By that test there shouldn’t be any brain cells left ANY WHERE. Are they sure the kids and the Researchers weren’t eating paint chips?
      Of coarse maybe that is why our world is so DUMB now????

  3. As an organic chemist with understanding of toxic effects of certain metals and compounds, have to push back on the ‘anti-science’ sentiment in some of these comments. Tetraethyl lead is the antiknock additive in 100LL. It’s extremely toxic and high enough exposures to humans cause organ failure and irreversible brain damage. The whole manufacturing supply chain for 100LL has to be separate from autogas because of this, hence the higher costs. GAMI and others have developed organic compound mixtures which have been proven to perform as well as 100LL, without any lead additives. If it’s safer to use in combustion engines, what’s the issue. Oh right, it’s Marxism, communism, etc, etc. No, just science.

    • Right, and compared to being around the amounts most of us here in comments were exposed to in the seventies, our planes are exposing us to tiny amounts. So excuse us if we think there’s just a little bit hyperbolic with your post.
      And, due to the harmful effects of things like Marxism exposure in academia and the environmentalist movement (started by Marxist and still led by Marxists), these studies are more often wrong than right (at least according to a study).
      If you tell me we are in much more danger being piston pilots than we would be working around second hand smoke, I’m going to listen skeptically.
      So yes, it would be wise to rid ourselves of the stuff if it’s not going to be a matter of inordinate cost. Maybe we could have more constructive discussions without the extreme comments.

    • In general the term ‘junk science’ is really ‘it doesn’t line up with what I believe, so it’s junk’ – there are a lot of studies out there that haven’t been peer reviewed and/or paid for by unscrupulous entities trying to change narratives to suit their purpose. But kneejerking something as junk science require

    • It’s only slightly more expensive relative to the current price of 100LL now, and the price difference will almost certainly narrow if/when G100UL is mass-produced. And if non-dedicated tankers can be used to transport the fuel, that could further reduce the price difference. It will still likely remain more expensive than 100LL, but not “significantly more expensve”, especially if you take into account the promise of longer oil change intervals and reduced maintenance from plug fouling.

      So yes, initially it will cost noticeably more, but overall cost will come down over time.

      • Gary there is NO “MASS-PRODUCED” piston Aviation fuel. The fuel is made and transported in separation of other fuels not because of the LEAD but as a requirement of being the certified fuel for aircraft. That is the way it was done even when ALL the other fuels were leaded.
        Also they have already said that it will cost MORE.
        Personally I don’t care about the cost as I burn AUTO FUEL in my planes.

    • Yep and GAMI is making sure they are getting their pound of flesh for it also. I have had interactions with the principle, he is a very smart individual but he is also a pompus donkey who goes off on tirades without knowing what he is talking about. I have a feeling part of the long process to get the GAMI fuel approved was his rubbing all the right people wrong.

      • You know who I like even less than people like you described? Self important government bureaucrats who care about the personality issues of people with proven solutions. We don’t pay the FAA to have meetings with only people they find charming. We pay for them to put things like safety over agreeableness.

  4. G100UL from agriculture is a labor and resource intensive business. There is no way resources and labor will be cheaper over time. That, and one bad growing season will reduce resources without reducing demand.

    So once again private GA will have to settle for a one size for all fuel that is more expensive? That’s change, not progress.

        • It’s just basic supply-and-demand and scale of economy. If the only choice becomes some 100UL fuel, that cost will eventually come down from the initial cost. That has nothing to do with SAF.

          • By introducing more on-demand labor and more disparate processes, increasing demand will exponentially increase costs. That, and the product may be non-existent in a bad growing season.

          • The problem is not demand. It is there. That leaves supply. GAMI controls what is, at present, the only supply that is a “universal” fuel if you buy an STC that only accepts their fuel.

            Monopolists always favor their monopoly, and GAMI is no different. By adding the massive barriers to entry for competition (FAA, EPA, Powerplant/Airframe manufacturers), in addition to the cost of R&D and production, it will be a longstanding and very expensive monopoly.

            My aircraft runs just fine on mogas and for Part 91 ops, there is no problem running it, other than the need to transport 80 gallons to the airport. If I decided to run Part 135, I cannot use it, despite all of the advantages.

            This is the problem. Aviation has never had a one size fits all well fuel. We used to have 100 and 80. We could use 100 in an 80 engine in a pinch, then when 80 disappeared, 100LL became one size (poorly) fits all.

            Mogas (any brand without ETOH) will most all 80 octane engine/airframes right now, today with a single STC from two competing sources. Right now, my a/c is fueled with Marathon 91 ETOH free, tomorrow it will be someone else’s. Airports have abandoned mogas if favor of 100LL. I go out of my way to patronize those that have mogas, simply to try to help keep it available and competitive.

  5. All these problems go away with compression ignition, CI, guys. If the EPA was really concerned about the environment instead of its control-freakishness, it would have provided a means to certify a series of drop-in CI engines for the fleet. Add a turbo for some free hp and even better emissions.

    • Engine certification is not in scope for the EPA, and I don’t think you want them forcing the FAA to do anything.
      In any case, your proposal would only raise costs for GA even further, beyond even what the cost of a more expensive unleaded 100-octane fuel would.

      • Why assume a new engine would have to cost 80k? Not that it matters, the FAA doesn’t really want us to get drop in engines anyways.

      • WHEN IT’S TIME to replace/rebuild your engine. If the powers that were, at the time, had been forward thinking, they’d have begun developing the engines. As it stands, there’s nothing available because “there’s no ROI”.

        Heres an idea: put 15% smaller diameter pistons (with cylinder sleeves of course). Bump up the compression ratio to compression ignition levels. Main bearing loads would stay about the same as they are, no change to block strength needed. Add turbo for some free power. No need to reinvent the wheel.

        And no, I’m not an engineer, it might only be 13%, or 20%.

  6. Apparently some people on this thread are also anti- vaccine.
    This whole thread is ridiculous.
    If you do not believe scientific fact, then absolutely nothing is believable.
    Please move to Russia where you are told what to think, and like it.

    Merry Christmas!

    • Since the “vaccine” did not protect against contraction or spread, you owe us scientific rationally thinking people an apology. The irony of your last sentence is just delicious.

      • No vaccine will prevent the spread of disease; the vaccine only keeps you from dying from it. Most scientifically rationally thinking people understand this.

  7. The easy route to refute the initial push is via precedent.

    WV vs EPA (2022) is a recent Supreme Court ruling that found the EPA did not have the mandate to create rules that killed businesses or destroyed the economic well being on an industry. If you feel like wading into it:

    It’s a case about power stations, but the principle is the same. The EPA cannot do more harm than good. They do not have the congressional mandate to destroy any industry with rules that hurt society more than help.

  8. I wonder how many posters who want 100LL to go away now have ever been to Alaska? If 100LL were to be banned now most if not all commerce in Alaska would stop. Alaska more than any other state relies on GA for most of its transportation. Alaskans also have little regard for Washington bureaucrats telling Alaskans how to do things. There is even a display in the Anchorage airport museum next to Lake Hood on how well Washington bureaucrats have been received in the past. I would like the lead to go away as much as anyone else but without an unleaded substitute readily available in quantity, all that would be accomplished by immediate banning of 100LL would be to shut down what is left of GA!

    • Most aircraft in Alaska could do just fine on UL 94 and the rest could probably be modified fairly quickly with water injection or other modifications. Aviation would then able to grow again with a pathway to the future which currently we don’t have and may never have if we keep following the 30 year path we currently are on which is hoping that a magical solution will appear., which of course, may never happen.

      • The path to the future has been made more difficult by the FAA rather than less. That’s a big part of why we are in this mess. If aircraft sales were still at the level they were when the FAA took over, we’d likely have engines more close in tech to what are in modern cars.

  9. Calif. airport must add unleaded fuel option in 2 years:
    Five Rivers Aviation, the fixed base operator at California’s Livermore Municipal Airport, has been given two years to add an unleaded aviation fuel option to the facility, following the City Council’s approval of a resolution that changes the minimum standards for commercial aeronautical activities. If a spare fuel tank can be recertified to allow unleaded fuel instead of installing a new tank, the airport may become compliant earlier.

    • So have a 5 gallon can of unleaded fuel at the airport for $300/gal. It’s now an option at the airport. Done.

      • Then have a 5 gallon can of 100LL fuel at the airport for $300/gal. I guess that would be any option than to get around the forced mandate the federal government is taking about.