FRESNO (CN) – Thirty-nine flight service companies asked a federal judge to stop the California attorney general from enforcing a state law banning the sale of lead-based fuel for piston-powered airplanes. They claim the environmental law will disrupt air taxi services and could cause plane crashes and deaths.
Lead plaintiff Loyd’s Aviation (sic) sued the Center for Environmental Health and Attorney General Kamala Harris, asserting the right to sell leaded gasoline to “customers in interstate commerce,” under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The businesses want the court to stop Harris from acting under the state’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, also known as Proposition 65.
The Center for Environmental Health in May threatened to sue the plaintiffs for allegedly contaminating drinking water with lead.
But the businesses claim the lead additive in aviation gasoline protects piston-powered engines from damage, and there are no safe alternatives.
The businesses claim enforcement of the state law would disrupt vital air taxi services across the country – including transportation of toxic waste and delivery of organs to transplant patients.
“The economies of rural communities in particular are dependent upon the orderly functioning of piston-engine aircraft for package delivery, emergency medical supplies, and other critical transport purposes,” the complaint states. “Without functioning piston-engine aircraft, rural communities across California would lose the aircraft routes and services upon which they depend.”
California has a vested interest in joining the Center for Environmental Health because it will receive 75 percent of civil or criminal penalties, the flight services say.
Center for Environmental Health spokesman Charles Margulis laughed off the lawsuit.
“It’s like suing a cop for giving you a speeding ticket just because you don’t like the fine,” Margulis told Courthouse News.
The plaintiffs are represented by Thomas Donnelly with Jones Day.