News / Amnesia File

See Map By Enviro Group On Lead Fuel Impacts Of Private Piston Planes @ Long Beach Airport; Previous Council Discussed Issue in 2011-2012 But No Serious Council Advocacy Actions Taken Since Then To Counter Fed'l Delays On Lead...And Council Is Silent On Health-Impacting Particulates From Large Comm'l Jets is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.

(March 27, 2015) -- The Center for Environmental Health -- which won a legal settlement in December 2014 with companies selling/distributing lead-laden fuel to private pilots using Long Beach Airport -- has produced an online map (embedded below) showing areas where the non-profit group says the leaded fuel creates air pollution issues.

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The environmental group's settlement requires companies that sell/distribute lead-laden aviation gas ("avgas") to provide what it calls safer alternative fuels...and until those fuels are provided, the companies must warn neighbors of lead pollution risks and provide warning signs at their airport fuel stations.

Large jet aircraft use jet fuel which is lead-free...but jet fuel creates health-impacting fallout from fine particulates and other toxic pollutants. As reported in May 2014 by, a study by a team of scientists from USC's Keck School of Medicine and the University of Washington found that health-impacting pollutants from LAX operations are many times higher than previously assumed and the adverse impacts extend for miles. ( coverage, click here..)

However to date, the issues of jet engine pollution and pistol-engine lead pollution haven't brought action from LB's policy-setting City Council, which operates Long Beach Municipal Airport and is simultaneously charged with protecting the public's health and safety. However, at the urging of now former Councilmembers Gerrie Schipske and James Johnson, a former Council did discuss the issue of general aviation (private plane) lead pollution before ultimately dropping the issue.

On August 2, 2011, Councilmembers Johnson, O'Donnell and Schipske agendized this item to have the Council's Environmental Committee deliberate on air quality impacts of aircraft, including general aviation (private planes) at LB Airport (carried 8-0, Gabelich absent). Airport Management provided the Committee with this staff report...and on March 13, 2012, the Council's Environmental Committee (Suja Lowenthal chair) recommended that "the City Council concur in the recommendations of the Committee to receive and file the Airport Advisory Commission Technical Subcommittee Policy which would foster the City's efforts in support of Federal legislation, regulations and/or initiatives that promote a financially prudent transition towards safe "green" aircraft fuel while balancing the safety and financial concerns of the general aviation community for potential adoption by the Federal level."

On July 3, 2012, the Council voted 9-0 to approve the recommendation.

On Feb. 3, 2015, the City Council approved its 2015 federal legislative agenda which includes the following text: "Support legislation, regulations and/or in itiatives that promote a financial prudent transition towards safe "green" aircraft fuel while balancing the safety and financial concerns of the general aviation community."

However to's knowledge, since the Council's 2012 recommendation, City Hall hasn't taken specific federal advocacy actions in support of the Council voted position regarding leaded aviation gas for piston aircraft...and has taken no actions of which we're aware regarding particulates emitted by jet aircraft.

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Other groups nationally have petitioned or sued the federal EPA to prompt action on the leaded-fuel issue, but the agency has repeatedly rebuffed their efforts and delayed a decision on aircraft lead emissions until 2018. Congress could direct the EPA to act, or take separate legislative action take action on its own, or direct the EPA to act, but hasn't, and LB's City Council hasn't made the issue a federal legislative priority.

In 2012, the FAA and federal EPA issued a report advocating an 11 year period to phase in lead free aviation fuel. The non-profit Center for Environmental Health has called the eleven year period "too long to wait for clean air free from lead poisoning risks." In a release, the group calls lead a "stunningly toxic chemical linked to serious health problems for children and adults, including reduced IQ and damage to the nervous system, kidney function, the immune system, reproductive and developmental systems and the cardiovascular system... Recent research has found that children living near general aviation airports have higher blood lead levels than children living farther away."

The Obama administration has said it would base its policies on science, but its EPA management (like that of previous administrations) has declined to issue an "endangerment finding" for leaded aviation gas, which would trigger a detailed administrative process for regulating leaded aviation gas emissions.

Alternatives to leaded aviation gas are reportedly costly and sometimes difficult to obtain. Some say that leaded fuel provides a margin of safety for pilots, ensuring their planes have the power needed for safe take-offs and operations. Others have argued that unleaded aviation fuel may hasten aircraft engine deterioration, creating additional safety issues.

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