AOPA fights back on Washington state bill banning 100LL sales

AOPA testimony combined with input from Washington state aviation community stakeholders successfully removed language banning the sale of 100LL fuel at the state’s airports as well as burdensome environmental requirements for pilots and airports. The original bill, known as H.B.1554 and sponsored by state Rep. Beth Doglio (D-District 22), was introduced in January with the goal of reducing public health and environmental impacts from lead by prohibiting the sale and distribution of 100LL aviation fuel in phases beginning in 2026, with additional prohibitions in 2028, with a statewide ban effective in 2030.

The bill, if passed, also threatened to put heavy environmental-related regulatory burdens and fines on Washington state airports in addition to prohibiting the sale and distribution of leaded fuel and would have served as a dangerous precedent for other states. In a letter to the House Environment and Energy Committee dated January 29, AOPA Northwest Mountain Regional Manager Brad Schuster shared AOPA’s concern that the bill’s premature phasing out of leaded avgas before a suitable alternative is available will do nothing to speed up achieving a lead-free aviation fleet and will cause immediate and severe economic impacts on the communities that rely on the airports affected by the bill. In addition, Schuster testified at a public hearing that although the aviation community shares the goal of removing lead from avgas in a safe and smart transition, the bill has the potential to introduce safety risks on pilots whose aircraft require leaded avgas. Following AOPA’s first testimony, language prohibiting sales of 100LL was removed; however, the imposition of environmental-related regulations and fines on airports remained.

In the subsequent hearing on February 20, Schuster again testified, along with the Washington State Aviation Alliance, the Washington Airport Management Association, and other stakeholders, before the Washington House Transportation Committee seeking to remove the remaining new compliance measures and penalties. After this hearing, Rep. Tom Dent (R-District 13) led a delegation of Washington state aviation community stakeholders to seek further improvements to the bill and the removal of financial penalties for noncompliance. This combined team effort ultimately resulted in the removal of leaded fuel prohibitions, steep compliance-related fines for airports, Washington Department of Ecology oversight, and related mandates targeting airports. Still remaining in the bill are clauses requiring the Washington Department of Transportation Aviation Division oversight of a lead-related education and outreach campaign targeting airport operators and pilots of piston-engine aircraft. AOPA continues to oppose the passage of this bill because it imposes requirements on the aviation system in Washington that we feel will be unnecessary as soon as an unleaded 100-octane replacement is widely available.

AOPA continues to support the removal of lead from aviation gasoline, by no later than 2030, but the transition must be done smartly and safely. Moreover, AOPA continues to oppose states and municipalities that ban the sale of 100LL citing safety issues with engine failure attributed to improper fueling, which has occurred at Reid-Hillview of Santa Clara County Airport in California. Please contact the AOPA Pilot Information Center if you become aware of a local or state bill that seeks to impose restrictions on the sale of 100LL fuel. Source: ‚AOPA‚. Photo: ‚Chris Rose‚.

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