Conservation group Friends of the Earth has sent a notice of intent to sue to the Environmental Protection Agency regarding its failure to respond to a 2006 petition asking for the regulation of lead emissions from general aviation aircraft under the Clean Air Act.
The petition specifically asked the EPA to find that lead emissions from aircraft using leaded aviation gasoline (avgas) may endanger public health. Nearly five years later, Friends of the Earth officials say the EPA has taken no final action with regard to the group’s petition.
“Our letter puts the EPA on notice that we will go to court unless EPA does what the law requires and addresses this pollution,” said Marcie Keever, legal director for the Friends of the Earth. “The health of airport workers, pilots, passengers, and surrounding communities from continued exposure to lead in aviation gasoline hangs in the balance.”
While lead was phased out of automobile gasoline 15 years ago, it remains as a constituent of avgas. The industry and the FAA are tackling the problem of finding a drop-in replacement for 100LL. At this year’s Sun ’n Fun, FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said that EPA officials had assured him that the agency would give GA the time it needs to find a safe solution to the problem.
The Friends of the Earth contend that GA’s use of avgas accounts for about half of the national inventory of lead emitted into the air, saying that the EPA estimates that approximately 14.6 billion gallons of leaded avgas were consumed between 1970 and 2007, emitting approximately 34,000 tons of lead. Currently 70% of GA planes could be using unleaded fuel or a modified alternative without any additional technology, the Friends of the Earth officials add.
“Given the EPA’s recognition of the harmful effects of lead emissions and the tremendous amount of lead emissions that still come from aircraft, we believe that the EPA will eventually take action,” said Marianne Engelman Lado, the lead Earthjustice attorney representing Friends of the Earth. “At the same time, in the interest of public health, the EPA’s failure to take timely action on Friends of the Earth’s petition is inexcusable. We are simply asking the EPA to move more quickly in establishing regulations that would protect millions from ill health caused by the known toxic effects of lead.”
Earthjustice and the Environmental Law and Justice Clinic at Golden Gate University School of Law are representing Friends of the Earth in this challenge of the EPA’s failure to respond to Friends of the Earth’s 2006 petition.
For more information: FOE.org