During his questioning of Joseph Goffman, the nominee for assistant administrator of the Office of Air and Radiation at the Environmental Protection Agency, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) reinforced the need for a safe and smart transition to an unleaded avgas future for general aviation.
As part of his questioning before the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, Inhofe stated:
“We all agree on the need for a safe and smart transition away from leaded avgas, but we also must ensure that there is no disruption in general aviation in [the] process. Unfortunately, without a clean and clear transition, airports may begin unilaterally prohibiting the availability of leaded avgas.”
A longtime and tireless supporter of GA and pilot, Inhofe also referred to a letter from the AOPA-led Avgas Coalition. The Avgas Coalition is a broad partnership of those who represent many components in the transition to an unleaded avgas future.
The May 6 letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and FAA Acting Administrator Billy Nolen, signed by the more than 110 members of the Avgas Coalition, expressed serious concerns about the unilateral decision by the sponsor of Reid-Hillview of Santa Clara County Airport in California, to prohibit the sale of 100LL, especially for those engines and aircraft that need the higher octane to fly safely. Many of those aircraft perform missions of rescue, emergency response, and disaster relief.
Inhofe also pointedly asked the nominee for his views on helping ensure that 100LL remains available at airports while industry and government work to transition to unleaded avgas:
“Will you commit to fostering a safe and smart transition away from leaded avgas and working with the FAA and industry to ensure that fuels available today remain available until a solution is fully approved and widely available?” Inhofe asked the nominee.
Goffman’s reply hit a welcome note from Inhofe and the GA community:
“We are wanting to avoid exactly what you are wanting to avoid, which is disruption in the availability of airports and of flying options, including … to individual pilots … we would certainly be committed to finding a solution that works for everybody, including not disrupting any transition from the current … leaded fuel use to the next.”
The EPA has conveyed its intent to release a proposed endangerment finding on leaded avgas sometime this year, and industry leaders have agreed to find a replacement fuel no later than 2030.
The Senate committee will vote on Goffman’s nomination soon. His nomination, if approved, would then go to the full Senate for confirmation.