Aviation groups say avgas will continue to be available despite an escalation of Friends of the Earth’s efforts to force the EPA to deal with the last remaining leaded fuel. “Despite the lawsuit, the near-term availability of leaded aviation fuel is not threatened in any way,” the GA Avgas Coalition said in a joint statement. “Members of industry, along with the FAA and EPA, will continue our diligent efforts toward a high-octane unleaded alternative to leaded avgas, with safety of flight as our foremost consideration.” Friends of the Earth (FOE) filed a lawsuit against the EPA last week, alleging the agency hasn’t moved quickly enough on a petition filed in 2006 to eliminate leaded fuel. The Avgas Coalition, which represents all the major GA associations, suggested FOE is taking a simplistic approach to a complex problem and also noted that while the suit names the EPA, it’s the FAA that sets aviation fuel standards. “Although EPA is charged with establishing aircraft emissions standards, it must consult with the FAA and cannot establish standards that would adversely affect safety,” the coalition said. “If the EPA does set new lead emissions standards for aircraft, the FAA would have responsibility for implementation and would have to explore the establishment of new fuel specifications.”
The coalition also noted that much progress has already been made in reducing the environmental impact of lead in gasoline and that the EPA has made the standards for ambient air lead content 10 times more stringent in its new regulations. GA airports, along with other sources of environmental lead (like battery plants), are being monitored for lead content in the air and most airports meet the new standards, the coalition said. As the process moves along, the coalition pledged to continue work with federal agencies and the private sector to identify and support the future production of avgas alternatives.