The General Aviation Avgas Coalition vowed today to fight a looming lawsuit in California against 50 fuel retailers and suppliers for distributing leaded aviation gasoline. The Center for Environmental Health (CEH), based in Oakland, Calif., served notice this week that it plans to sue for violation of California’s drinking water and toxic enforcement law.
The CEH says it is a nonprofit dedicated to “protecting the environment, improving human health and supporting environmentally sound practices.” The notices states that airplanes burning leaded fuel are exposing airports throughout the state. “Ordinary use of the leaded aviation fuel supplied by the alleged violators results in discharges or releases of lead into water or onto land where lead passes or probably will pass into a source of drinking water,” the CEH says.
CEH adds it plans to file a lawsuit against each violator unless they enter a binding agreement that the will provide warnings to individual or reside or pass by exposed airports, cease the sale of all leaded aviation fuel in California, take remedial action to clean lead from sources of drinking water and pay an appropriate civil penalty.
The GA Avgas Coalition notes it is exploring all options to support those named in the lawsuit. “Because the National Airspace System belongs to the people of the U.S. and benefits the entire country, Congress has reserved to the federal government, through the FAA, the right and responsibility to regulate all aviation activities in the U.S.,” the coalition states. “The threatened CEH lawsuit in California raises the specter of a patchwork of state regulations governing fuels pilots may or may not use in their piston-powered aircraft.”
The coalition further argues that avgas is necessary to ensure that an aircraft engine does not suffer a catastrophic failure. The coalition notes work is ongoing to address the issue, and that FAA, the industry and the Environmental Protection Agency are all collaborating on the effort. “It is imperative that the issues surrounding the safe and effective transition to an unleaded fuel be addressed at the federal level, and that the FAA and EPA be the agencies that address those concerns,” the coalition says. “The potential for this type of legal action at the state level highlights the necessity of FAA leadership, EPA involvement, and industry input to continue the safe transition to a new fuel.”
The coalition notes that the potential litigants – even those involved in the coalition – did not join in the statement because of the legal ramifications.