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Santa Monica Could Join in Call for Ban on Leaded Aviation Fuel

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By Jorge Casuso

November 5, 2021 -- The City Council on Tuesday will consider joining a petition urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to initiate a nationwide ban on leaded aviation fuel.

If the Councilmember item is approved, the City would join Earthjustice -- along with Santa Clara, Friends of the Earth and others -- to petition the EPA for an Endangerment Finding on leaded fuel.

It also would push for federal agencies to stop the sale of leaded aviation fuel and "expedite the approval process for an alternative to the leaded aviation fuel."

The item was placed on the agenda by Mayor Pro Tem Kristin McCowan and Councilmember Gleam Davis after anti-jet activists wrote letters to the Council and the City's Airport Commission approved a motion backing the ban.

The local activist group NoJets! is urging City officials to take action at Santa Monica Airport (SMO) as the larger effort works its way through the federal bureaucracy.

"In the meantime, we believe the city must divest all ties to the sale and storage of leaded fuel from city owned tanks and from city contracted companies and bring safer fuels to SMO," the group wrote.

The group acknowledges the City cannot restrict the sale of leaded fuel at the municipal airport but said it also is "not obligated to facilitate it."

If aviation service providers at the airport continue to sell leaded fuel from their tanks, "the responsibility of poisoning those below will rest on their heads, the FAA, and the Federal government," the group said.

"We are talking about facilitating the sale of a toxic heavy metal," NoJets! wrote in an email asking residents to join in the effort. "We are not debating the sale of bacon wrapped hot dogs at the pier."

The group is urging the City to make available an unleaded alternative fuel that can be used by 80 percent of the aircraft in use today, the group said.

In a recent move that signals a shift away from leaded fuels, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved more than 600 additional piston aircraft engine models that use the unleaded developed by General Aviation Modifications Inc. (GAMI).

According to a consultant for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the move "is a very bullish sign that the FAA is continuing to honor their commitment to move unleaded avgas forward as fast as possible.”

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