Industry Responds To CA 100LL Suit
News of the California environmental group Center of Environmental Health's (CEH) intent to sue California avgas suppliers was met Wednesday with some no-nonsense opposition from GAMA, a member of the General Aviation Avgas Coalition. GAMA argued in a statement that state-level action on the matter is basically a non-starter. The organization said "Congress has reserved to the Federal government," via the FAA, "the right and responsibility to regulate all aviation activities in the U.S." If allowed to proceed, GAMA suggests that a state-level lawsuit could lead to "a patchwork of state regulations governing fuels pilots may or may not use in their piston-powered aircraft." And, says GAMA, federal agencies are already addressing the problem of leaded aviation fuel. CEH is not worried about the jurisdictional issues. In a podcast interview with AVweb, CEH's Director of Research Caroline Cox says there's nothing in the California law the group is using that gives the Feds an exemption. She also said the group's prime motivation is to be a player in the eventual elimination of lead in avgas and won't necessarily pursue the suit if it believes discussions are headed in the right direction. However, if it does go to court and the oil companies and FBOs lose, CEH will get a 25-percent share of any civil penalties imposed and she said that provision is part of the funding strategy for the small ($1.7 million annual budget) non-profit organization.
The FAA and EPA are already working with engine manufacturers, fuel producers, consumers and suppliers to address a transition away from leaded fuel. And that transition, says GAMA, should be organized at a federal level. At the heart of the issue is safety of flight. The FAA is working through the Unleaded Avgas Transition Aviation Rulemaking Committee to address issues ranging from certification to production and distribution of new fuels, while also accounting for economic and environmental concerns. As far as GAMA is concerned, federal action supported by industry input is the way to assure continued safe operation of aircraft as we transition away from leaded fuel. The Avgas Coalition itself has not issued a statement because several of its members are potential litigants in the suit.