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Bill eliminating leaded avgas will cause 'severe economic impacts and safety risks,' EAA letter says

The EAA responded to the recent bill proposed in Washington state concerning the elimination of leaded aviation fuel, stating the bill would cause severe economic impacts and introduce safety risks., The bill was recently introduced in the Washington state House of Representatives and proposed a phased-in restriction for leaded avgas, beginning Jan. 1, 2023, at airports on land near Seattle, eventually spreading to other sites all over the state by 2030.RELATED STORY:Washington state bill introduces leaded gas restrictions, overall ban by 2030 The EAA responded to the bill, expressing serious concerns over the bill. The organization sent the letter as a representative of the GA community and other organizations like GAMA and NATA. They state that the community and organizations in the industry strongly oppose the bill, "due to concerns about maintaining aviation safety and the U.S. national transportation system." The GA community is in favor of the elimination of leaded fuels but feels that a rush to do so could cause safety concerns. The EAA mentioned the progress already made in working with the FAA and industry partners to expedite the development of unleaded avgas. A national plan is already in place through the EPA that will lead to the removal of lead from fuel. A premature and hasty removal plan will undercut progress made by the initiative. The bill directs the department of Ecology, with the Department of Transportation and Department of Health, to create guidelines for identifying practices for reducing lead exposure for airport operations. The plan has multiple phases, expanding from highly populated urban areas like Seattle to other urban centers in Washington. The total elimination of leaded avgas is proposed to be complete by 2030.Washington Bill proposal The letter points out that a total ban would threaten aviation safety in Washington for owners and pilots of aircraft that require the fuel. The legislation could also have a serious economic impact on small businesses that sell fuel at airports since many pilots would enter neighboring states and provinces to buy fuel. Aircraft operators in the Washington area that currently use leaded avgas provide important services to the community, through law enforcement, medical transport, business aviation, personal recreation and flight training. With a nationwide pilot shortage, flight training and maintaining a strong supply of future pilots is imperative. The letter outlines the immense work done in the industry to remove lead from avgas. There is continued work being done between the FAA and EPA on working toward a safe removal and transition to unleaded fuel. When the EPA published a proposed endangerment finding for lead in avgas, the EAA and other GA organizations published comments.RELATED STORY:GA public response to EPA on leaded fuel The coalition of GA industry leaders supports the removal, but requests that it be done so in a "safe and smart transition." "We request and recommend a more productive path forward, including support of the ongoing EAGLE initiative and the encouragement of operational practices at airports that mitigate lead exposures whenever possible. These mitigations include the adjustment of airport operations to limit concentrations of emissions and the introduction of lower octane unleaded fuel to supplement, not replace, leaded avgas for those aircraft that can utilize this fuel until such time as a high-octane unleaded fuel is available for the entire general aviation fleet." Undermining progress already in place before a new fuel has been transitioned safely into use could pose a safety hazard for aircraft users and operators. An unleaded fuel, the G100UL avgas, has already been given fleet-wide approval from the FAA. Progress like this can safely transition aviation to the removal of leaded fuel, but work is still in progress and unleaded fuel is still not readily available.RELATED STORY:FAA approves GAMI G100UL for piston aircraft "Progress is being made towards an unleaded future," the letter said. "At the federal level, HAI, EAA, GAMA and NATA continue to co-lead the Eliminate Aviation Gasoline Lead Emissions (EAGLE) Initiative with the stated goal of removing lead by the end of 2030. EAGLE includes the FAA, industry, and other aviation advocacy organizations and is supported by Federal funding and industry in-kind support for the testing, evaluation, approval, and deployment of unleaded fuels." The opposition to the bill is not an opposition to removing lead from aviation fuel. The organizations urge legislators to support the ongoing EAGLE initiative and encourage airport operations to mitigate lead exposures when possible. An open dialogue between the industry, government and agencies like the EPA is important in the transition. "We welcome a dialogue and collaboration with the House Environment and Energy Committee to improve our mutual understanding of this critical issue."
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