AOPA testified against proposed legislation in Montana that could limit the amount of automotive fuel available for use in general aviation aircraft, forcing some pilots to travel hundreds of miles to get fuel. SB-293 would require that all automotive fuel sold in the state be blended with 10 percent "agriculturally derived, denatured alcohol," or ethanol. The bill would take effect as soon as the state's farmers have produced 30 million gallons of ethanol.
Tuesday afternoon, AOPA Northwest Regional Representative Mike Ferguson joined other witnesses from the aviation, transportation, and business communities before the Montana Senate Highways and Transportation Committee. Ferguson said that SB-293 would force many aircraft owners who now use automotive fuel in their aircraft to travel long distances to find non-blended fuel or switch to 100LL avgas.
Although it's readily available, avgas costs more per gallon and has operational issues in some lower compression engines. The legislation also would negatively impact many light-sport aircraft, which will be certified to operate on automotive fuel.
The legislation doesn't affect 100LL and would 'exempt' aircraft from having to use ethanol-blended fuel, meaning that airports that sell automotive fuel could continue to do so.
But pilots who can't get automotive fuel at their airport would be out of luck. "It's unlikely that gas stations would operate two separate sets of pumps for the current limited demand of aircraft owners who utilize automotive fuel," said Ferguson. See AOPA's issue brief.
February 2, 2005