Piper Cherokee Six

Piper Cherokee Six
These aircraft MUST use 100 Octane Low Lead fuel

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Alaska Sen. Murkowski comments on potential impacts if EPA regulates Avgas

WASHINGTON, D.C. –( July 22,2010)- U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure that any new regulations on leaded aviation fuel under the Clean Air Act are implemented in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and aviation stakeholders and that no changes be implemented until an alternative aviation fuel can be developed and tested.

The EPA has formally begun a regulatory process under the Clean Air Act which may result in standards mandating that the aviation industry transition to unleaded aviation gasoline, or avgas.  The EPA has issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR), providing an opportunity for the general aviation community to comment on this possible new environmental standard and the development of a plan for potentially transitioning to unleaded fuel. Murkowski submitted comments as part of the ANPR calling on the EPA to develop a substitute to leaded-gasoline and to test any developed alternatives in Alaska.

These potential regulatory changes, if implemented by the EPA, would primarily affect piston-driven aircraft engines. In Alaska, there are more than 10,000 registered piston engine aircraft, many of which serve as the primary mode of transportation and source of goods and supplies for many Alaskans and are vital to the transportation, recreational and survival needs of numerous communities. A change in this regulation could result in approximately 30 percent of Alaska’s piston engine fleet requiring engine modification or being grounded completely due to a switch to unleaded fuel.

“Aviation is a basic mode of transportation and the small general aviation aircraft is the equivalent of the minivan for a family in bush Alaska,” Murkowski wrote in her submitted comments.

Should the EPA move forward to implement changes requiring private aircraft to shift from leaded aviation gas to unleaded before the development of an alternative fuel for aircraft engines, Murkowski said the changes could result in  severe economic and social impacts to communities across Alaska as aircraft owners are forced to modify or even replace their engines in order to meet new EPA regulations.

“Over 95 percent of Alaskan aircraft are piston engine aircraft that burn leaded aviation fuel. Without these aircraft and their ability to access these rural and oftentimes remote communities, thousands of Alaskans could face extraordinarily negative socio-economic problems,” Murkowski wrote.

Murkowski also stressed the need for the EPA not to enact broad policy changes on the use of leaded aviation fuel without jointly working with the FAA and without a consensus of members of the aviation community who manufacture, service and operate aircraft engines using leaded fuel. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sen. Begich making pitch for GA aircraft and 100 Low Lead Av users


A premature regulation of lead emissions from aviation fuel could have negative effects on the piston general aviation fleet across the nation. But GA-dependent communities in Alaska especially have a lot at stake, Senate General Aviation Caucus Co-Chair Mark Begich (D-Alaska) told the Environmental Protection Agency July 8, 2010.
The impacts of a phaseout of lead from avgas would be magnified in Alaska, Begich wrote in a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. Begich explained the potential impact of regulations on avgas, called for the FAA to invest resources in developing an unleaded alternative to 100LL, and asked the agency for an additional extension to the comment period on an advance notice of proposed rulemaking so that Alaskans would have more time to review the document and comment.
“The EPA should not phase out or eliminate 100LL until a suitable replacement is found,” Begich wrote. “A suitable substitute fuel should be affordable and should not require costly or impractical engine or airframe modifications to the in-use piston engine fleet.”
The transition to an unleaded avgas presents significant challenges, he added. The FAA, working with the aviation and petrochemical industries, must direct additional resources in an effort to find a replacement fuel, Begich wrote. A general aviation avgas coalition, including AOPA, the American Petroleum Institute (API), the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), the National Air Transportation Association (NATA), the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), and the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association (NPRA), has similarly called for FAA leadership and dedicated funding to address the avgas issue.
The issue of leaded avgas is particularly important to Alaska, Begich noted. The state’s expansive geography and limited road infrastructure results in it having six times more pilots and 16 times more airplanes per capita than the rest of the country, he wrote.
“Most of Alaska’s rural communities are served by shorter gravel airstrips which cannot accommodate larger jet aircraft. Because of these logistical limitations, general aviation and air taxis are a critical component of commerce and are the prevalent method of transporting people, goods, and mail to Alaska’s roadless communities. When Alaskans in a remote village require medical treatment at a hospital, most frequently they travel to a larger community via piston engine aircraft,” Begich wrote.
Because of the potential impact on Alaska, Begich asked the EPA to extend the deadline for comments on its advance notice of proposed rulemaking (EPA-HQ-OAR-2007-0294-0100) regarding lead emissions from aviation until Oct. 31. The avgas coalition previously requested a 120-day extension on the comment period but was granted 60 days, so the extension Begich requested would make the deadline the same as what the coalition initially requested. Summer is the busiest time of year for Alaska’s aviators, he wrote, so the additional two months would allow them more time to review the proposed rulemaking and comment.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Begich urges EPA consideration of negative impact to Alaska

Press Release issued by Sen. Mark Begich on July 8   
Expressing deep concern for the potential negative impact on Alaska, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich has submitted formal comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding a proposed rule which may regulate or even ban the use of leaded gas in piston engine air craft. In a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Begich asks for the comment period to be extended to allow Alaskans an opportunity to be heard on this important issue and for the EPA to further consider the consequences in a state with over 10,000 piston engine aircraft.

“The premature regulation of leaded avgas will have a substantially negative impact on transportation, health and safety in Alaska. At this point the potential costs to Alaska associated with regulating avgas far outweigh the benefits and threaten to leave Alaska’s rural communities without a reliable means of transportation,” Begich writes.

In his letter, Begich outlines the geographic challenges of transportation in Alaska, noting the state has six times more pilots and 16 times more planes per capita than the rest of the country. He says the predominance of piston engine aircraft is a direct result of Alaska’s expansive geography and limited road infrastructure. Over 80 percent of Alaska communities have no road access and rely completely on piston engine aircraft to stay connected to the rest of the state.

“When Alaskans in a remote village require medical treatment at a hospital, most frequently they travel to the larger community via piston engine aircraft. The EPA’s regulatory announcement for the proposed rulemaking on avgas states, ‘lead is not used in jet fuel, the fuel utilized by most commercial aircraft.’ While this statement may hold true for the Lower 48 states, the vast majority of commercial aircraft in Alaska are smaller piston-driven aircraft, which use avgas,” Begich says.

While acknowledging the transition to an unleaded aviation gas is a desirable goal, Begich says the FAA and EPA need to first find a replacement fuel that will work for Alaska. With no substitute fuel for 100 Low Lead, the most common type of avgas, the EPA should not phase out or eliminate the fuel until a suitable, affordable replacement is found.

“I implore you to carefully consider the comments submitted by Alaskans who will be most directly affected by the EPA’s decision,” Begich said. “I am extremely concerned the EPA may move to regulate emission standards from piston engine aircraft through phasing out or eliminating avgas. This would have a direct and significant negative impact on Alaskans,” he said.

Begich asks the EPA to extend the comment period on this rulemaking to October 31, 2010 to accommodate Alaskans, especially aviators and small businesses, who are significantly busier in the summer months. The current deadline is August 27, 2010.

Sen. Begich is co-chair of the bi-partisan, 31-member Senate General Aviation Caucus and says he plans to hold a briefing on the avgas topic to make sure fellow caucus members are informed of the potential ramifications of the rule change on the GA community.