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EAA Voices Objections To Proposed Renewable Fuel Legislation

 

July 13, 2006 — Two bills submitted in the U.S. Congress Wednesday, July 12, would amend the Clean Air Act to require all gasoline sold for use in motor vehicles to contain 10 percent renewable fuel by the year 2010. These days renewable fuel means ethanol, and EAA and other organizations contend that would create a dilemma for aircraft owners and operators, as avgas and auto fuel used by certain aircraft owners would fall under the legislation.

Separate studies by EAA, Cessna, and the FAA have proven that ethanol-blended fuels are harmful to recreational and general aviation aircraft and their fuel system components (rubber lines, fuel pumps, rubber seals, and fuel tanks). Vapor lock is also a critical flight safety issue caused by the use of ethanol-blended auto fuel in aircraft engines.

In separate letters to Rep. Ralph M. Hall (R-TX), Chairman, Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality, and Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Chairman, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee EAA President Tom Poberezny made it clear that such a move would be harmful to aviation.

"Despite several attempts by EAA and others, ethanol-blended gasoline, all grades, have not been able to meet the FAA flight safety fuel certification standards," he wrote. "As a result, the FAA prohibits these STC holders from using auto fuel containing ethanol."

EAA and Petersen Aviation have issued 57,600 FAA-approved Supplemental Type Certificates (STC) to type-certificated aircraft owners authorizing use of auto fuel as their primary fuel.

Both bills (H.R. 4357, Senate Bill 3553) exempt collector vehicles from the fuel mandate but do not address or exempt other types of recreational vehicle operators, including aircraft. Nor do the bills provide a means for exempted operators to receive non-blended fuels. Gas station operators and gasoline distributors are not encouraged to provide non-renewable blended fuel to the end "exempted" users.

EAA recommends two modifications to the bills, which mirror recommendations made to individual states who've considered renewable fuel mandates: Exempt unleaded premium grade gasoline with an antiknock index number of 91 or greater from the fuel mandate; and exempt all grades of aviation gasoline (i.e., avgas) from the requirements of the 10 percent renewable fuel mandate.

EAA further recommends the exemptions remain in place until the Department of Transportation can document that the industry-chosen renewable fuel is safe to operate in the engines and fuel systems in all modes of transportation, recreational vehicles, aircraft, and other equipment.

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