Court Delays Action On Leaded Avgas

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A U.S. District Court Wednesday dismissed a suit brought by Friends of the Earth that aimed to push the EPA to decide whether emissions from general aviation aircraft are a threat to public health, but did not dismiss the possibility of further policymaking. The ruling found that the Environmental Protection Agency does have discretion to make an endangerment finding regarding leaded avgas emissions. But it also ruled that the EPA cannot be forced to make an accelerated finding. AOPA said it hopes the ruling will allow general aviation to transition away from leaded fuels based on a schedule "driven by facts and policy, hopefully not by more lawsuits." The EPA is not scheduled to make a decision before 2015.

The petition filed by Friends of the Earth detailed harm cause by lead emissions and claimed that failure of the EPA to make an endangerment finding constituted an "unreasonable delay." The group sued the EPA hoping to set regulations for lead emissions from aircraft. The court found that Friends of the Earth raised significant concerns with its allegations, but ruled it cannot take up the issue as a "citizen suit" within the provisions of the Clean Air Act. The EPA is expected to begin its own public proceedings to determine whether or not the emissions are harmful and a final decision resulting from those proceedings is not expected before mid-2015. AVweb's Glenn Pew spoke with the lawyer representing Friends of the Earth last year. The podcast is available here.