California was the first state to attempt to remove the lead from 100LL by lawsuit. Unfortunately, the result of the unsuccessful CEH lawsuit only increased the cost of 100LL in the state.
Now, along comes Oregon, which wants to tax the lead out of 100LL. I have a feeling this method will appeal to other states, so prepare to see it find traction in your state legislature.
I received an email from the FBO at Lebanon State Airport, which happens to be one of two airport operators that sells mogas on the airport in Oregon, informing me that there is a bill in the legislature to increase the fuel tax on leaded aviation fuel. It is HB 3193, and it will get its first hearing today, April 6, in the Oregon House Committee On Transportation and Economic Development. (You have to love the irony of a tax that will stifle aviation economic development in Oregon being heard in the Committee On Economic Development.)
One of the truly frightening features of the bill is that the tax rate increase is left up to state bureaucrats to set, and there is even a provision that it shall be increased each year thereafter … I guess until the lead is taxed out of aviation fuel or when there is no general aviation left in Oregon, whichever occurs first. The tax could be in the dollar(s) per gallon, and none of the tax is designated to fund aviation projects in the state.
Turns out we have someone to thank for getting this bill introduced: Oregon Aviation Watch. If there is a similar organization in your state, be prepared to see similar legislation introduced in your legislative body, especially if this bill passes.
It is interesting to note that the Oregon legislature has an opportunity to change the lead footprint that general aviation produces if it wants to. In the bill, unleaded aviation fuel is designated separately from leaded aviation fuel. The only FAA approved unleaded aviation fuel, mogas, will continue to be taxed at $0.09 at gallon.
If the legislature is serious about wanting unleaded aviation fuel to be used more widely in Oregon, it should abolish the tax on unleaded fuel, remove the cumbersome requirement to collect the state road tax for on-airport sales of mogas, and provide a program to help airports add mogas infrastructure through programs like the Oregon Transportation Infrastructure Bank.
If you would like to comment on HB 3193, send your comments to the Transportation and Economic Development committee members. I did.
I’ll let you know if this legislation moves out of the committee after the hearing. The majority of bills die in committee after their first hearing, but if the bill is sent to some other committee or the House floor for a vote, you will hear it here. Stay tuned.