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Washington state bill introduces leaded gas restrictions, overall ban by 2030

A bill was introduced in Washington state House of Representatives concerning leaded aviation fuel. The 1554 bill proposes phases for a restriction on leaded avgas, beginning Jan. 1, 2026, at airports on land adjacent to a contaminated site in Seattle with a spread over the next two years to other urban growth sites and airports in Washington.Dr. Holly Davies and Kimberly Goetz discuss toxicology in Washington and lead levels in merchandise and goods The bill directs the department of Ecology (Ecology), with the Department of Transportation and Department of Health, to create guidance for identifying the best practices for reducing lead exposures from airport operations. The initial publication will be July 1, 2024, and updates will begin in 2026. With Ecology's guidance, airport operators are required to submit and utilize a plan to minimize exposure. These practices will be identified by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Beginning November 1, 2024, the plan will be developed and a budget will be set to finance aircraft fueling infrastructure improvements. These infrastructure changes will allow for the supply of unleaded avgas on the same timeline as the phaseout of the leaded gasoline. Airports that do not comply or submit plans on time will be assisted by Ecology. Ecology is directed to implement new rules and enforce requirements pertaining to the leaded avgas. Penalties will also be in place for people and facilities that violate the new rules for leaded avgas sales and lead exposure minimization plan requirements.Bill 1554 being introduced and explained The bill directs local air pollution control authorities, created under the federal Clean Air Act, to enforce requirements across Washington and Ecology is directed to enforce requirements in areas without air pollution control authorities. The legislation found that leaded fuel is a recognized hazard to human health and the environment. Leaded motor vehicle fuel was phased between the 1970s and 1990s, yet aviation gasoline remains in use. The bill amounts the problem to a state of emergency.RELATED STORIES:GA public response to EPA on leaded fuelFAA inefficiencies a hot topic in discussion among private aviation leadersThere has been a nationwide discussion between general aviation organizations like the EAA, GAMA and AOPA, and government agencies like the EPA about how to transition safely to new unleaded fuel. In January, General Aviation associations responded to the EPA's proposed findings regarding the use of leaded fuel. The EPA released findings on Oct. 7, 2022, discussing the harmful emissions of lead from aircraft operations. The organizations feel that a safe transition takes time and communication. General aviation is an integral part of life, being used for transportation, medical transport, agriculture needs, and help in times of crisis or natural disaster. The general aviation industry is in support of removing lead from aircraft fuel but suggests the standards for transition consider the safety of transitioning to a new fuel that is properly tested, approved and functional. President and CEO of National Air Transportation Association (NATA) Curt Castagna, spoke with other industry leaders like President and CEO of NBAA Ed Bolen and President and CEO of GAMA Pet Bunce in a panel about hot topics in the industry, including the public pressure for sustainable fuel and the removal of leaded avgas. Castagna said the industry is aligned in the wish to remove the harmful fuel but wishes to do so in a rational process to remove the use of the fuel safely. He said the industry is opposed to the pressure to outright ban the fuel in advance of a replacement, feeling it is not a safe transition for the industry. Castagna said the industry and agencies and programs like Eliminate Aviation Gasoline Lead Emissions (EAGLE) need to work together on the process.Bill Shoes represents the AOPA and Chris Herman represents the 75 port districts with the Washington public ports association The bill acknowledges the EPA proposal and its work with the FAA, stating the departments listed in the new bill should consult the publications made by the agencies when making decisions. The EPA and FAA already have a plan to eliminate the fuel by 2030. The process by which the FAA and EPA plan to eliminate the fuel is deemed too slow considering the hazardous levels of lead in blood in the community, especially children. The outright ban and other premature action could impede the research and work being done to find a safer alternative to unleaded fuel. The bill recognizes the EPA process for removing lead from avgas, but felt it was too slow to protect the communities that live in general aviation hubs or near GA airports. The legislation intends to phase out the use of leaded avgas and to take steps to mitigate public health and environmental harms caused by its use. The plan involves steps to slowly eliminate the fuel in a process that will have complete removal by 2030. "This act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions, and takes effect immediately."
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