Thursday, January 17, 2008

No 100LL Fuel
Dilemma in OR


There has been lots of buzz lately about House Bill 2210, which Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski signed into law last year. The law mandates that a 10 percent ethanol blend for gasoline sold in the state be put into effect very soon, which means Northwest Oregon on Jan 15, 2008, Southwest Oregon on April 15, and Central/Eastern Oregon on September 16.

On the surface, this new law has sparked much debate in aviation circles, with my aviator and non-aviator friends asking just what I'm going to do when "they take my hundred low lead away."

When people start talking about cutting off our fuel supply, rumors can get fired up in a hurry. As a new airplane owner, the last thing I need is for someone with good intentions writing some sort of law that screws with my fuel. So this week I went in search of answers to all kinds of questions:
Q: Am I going to lose the ability to buy 100LL for my Cherokee 235?
Q: Can my Lycoming 0-540 run on a concoction of 90% dead dinosaurs and 10% distilled corn?
Q: If the supply of avgas goes away in Oregon, will it spread to the rest of the country...and if that happens, what will happen to the value of my Cherokee if fuel is not readily available?
After a few hours scouring the Internets, I found some good data from EAA that answered some questions but raised others. Frustrated, I decided to just go to the highest level and ask the top person for the straight scoop. In this case, that person was Dan Clem, Director of the Oregon State Department of Aviation. If he didn't know what was going on with our fuel, then I guess we'd really be in a pickle. So I shot off a quick email, and guess what, I got immediate answers that to me, slams the door on those nasty "we're gonna lose our fuel" rumors for good. Here is Clem's reply, published with permission:
"The Oregon Department of Aviation has drafted clarifying text for inclusion into the final version of the administrative rules of House Bill 2210 to make it clear that the ethanol-blending requirement does not affect fuels used for aviation purposes, including gasoline. Hence, 100LL and Jet-A are not affected by the legislation. The effect of this legislation is that unblended Premium-grade gasoline (purchased by owners of small airplanes certificated or required by manufacturer’s specifications) at local gas stations will likely no longer be available, as distributors may not see enough volume potential for unblended gasoline at a retail station. Most definitely, 100LL is not affected by this legislation."
There you have it, straight from the top. Director Clem also sent me the exact language his department has sent up the food chain to amend HB 2210 that clearly shows our 100LL is in no danger of having its formula changed to anything other then what is spelled out in ASTM D 910, the "Standard Specification for Aviation Fuel" as written in the FAA directives for aviation fuel.

I think this information puts this issue to rest for me, so I won't worry a second more about the availability of avgas here in Oregon. But even though the supply looks intact, that doesn't mean I won't occasionally still bitch about the price.