As we mentioned in our October 19, 2011 post, “EPA Sets Its Regulatory Cross Hairs on Leaded Aviation Fuel,” an environmental advocacy group, Friends of the Earth, filed a 2006 petition asking EPA to find that lead emissions from the use of aviation gasoline (“Avgas”) in the general aviation sector endangers public health, and to regulate such emissions under the Clean Air Act. In May 2011, the group submitted a Notice of Intent to sue the EPA. Last week, Friends of the Earth filed a lawsuit to challenge EPA’s failure to respond to the 180-day petition and for failure to regulate lead emissions from Avgas.
Friends of the Earth point to two facts that it says mandates immediate corrective action by EPA through regulation of Avgas: (1) according to EPA estimates, sixteen million people reside and three million children attend school in close proximity to the 22,000 airports where leaded Avgas may be used; and (2) there is no safe threshold for lead exposure.
As posted earlier, it is well-known that lead is highly toxic and may cause adverse health effects, thus, it was phased out of automobile gasoline many years ago. A recent study from Duke University concluded that children living within 1,000 meters of an airport where Avgas is used show a higher blood lead level than other children. EPA has commissioned air quality monitors be installed at 15 airports to gather information on lead pollution and the Federal Aviation Administration has assembled a task force to orchestrate a move away from Avgas use. However, it appears that these actions were not good enough for Friends of the Earth. According to the group, this lawsuit asks EPA “to move more quickly and definitively in establishing regulations.”
Air pollution remains a top priority at EPA. It is likely that we will see regulation of air emissions, such as lead emissions, in the near future. As this issue progresses, please check back to this blog for future posts.