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May 17, 2024

SIGNED! Legislation to Reduce Lead and Noise Pollution, Protect Colorado’s Air

SUPERIOR, CO – Governor Jared Polis today signed legislation to reduce lead and noise pollution caused by airplanes.  HB24-1235, sponsored by Representatives Kyle Brown and Shannon Bird and Senate President Steve Fenberg and Senator Rachel Zenzinger, will protect communities from aviation fuel lead emissions and noise pollution.

“More than 25 years after the phase-out of leaded gasoline for passenger vehicles, leaded aviation fuel is still present in Colorado and can have adverse health effects on our communities, especially children and youth,” said Rep. Kyle Brown, D-Louisville. “This law will improve our public health and help transition aircraft away from the use of leaded fuel. Our community-driven legislation works to ensure that airports are good neighbors to their surrounding communities by addressing both the dangers of lead exposure and the quality of life impacts of noise pollution.”

“Over the last few years, I have received countless constituent emails, phone calls, and town hall questions about pervasive noise and lead pollution caused by aviation,” Senate President Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, said. “Time and time again, impacted Coloradans were told that due to federal preemption, there was nothing that could be done to protect them from these negative impacts. This year, we got creative and came up with a policy that asks airports to do their part to reduce aviation noise while supporting them in their transition away from leaded fuels. However, this marks just the first step in meaningfully addressing the problem. There’s much more work ahead to ensure impacted communities and regional airports can coexist in Colorado.”

“As our state’s population grows, smaller airports are seeing more traffic than ever before, which means increased noise and air pollution in our communities,” said Rep. Shannon Bird, D-Westminster. “Coloradans have the right to live peacefully in their homes without the constant noise of low level air traffic; this law will require creation of noise mitigation plans and airports will need to help educate pilots about how they can minimize their impact on residential neighborhoods. There is no safe level of lead exposure for our children, and our law works to clean up our air while prioritizing the health of our neighbors.”

“Communities I represent in Jefferson County are experiencing firsthand the effects of aviation noise and lead pollution,” Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, D-Arvada, said. “These adverse impacts take a toll on a person’s well-being and simply shouldn’t have to be a part of life for folks living near regional airports like Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport. This important law is our response to community concerns to help neighborhoods and airports find a way to coexist, protect the health of Coloradans, and make sure our state remains a great place to live and raise a family.”

HB24-1235 will help ensure communities and airports coexist better by easing the transition to unleaded fuels for aircraft owners and airports and ensuring airports maintain sustained noise mitigation efforts. Specifically, this law: 

  • Incentivizes aircraft owners to transition their planes from using leaded to unleaded fuel by providing a refundable income tax credit for qualified expenses

  • Ensures that the lesser of 10 percent or $1.5M of State Aviation System grant funding per year goes toward aiding the transition to unleaded aviation gasoline

  • Requires grant recipients to both adopt a plan for phasing out sales of leaded gasoline by 2030, and establishes a noise abatement plan 

  • Adds two members to the Colorado Aeronautical Board who are residents of communities affected by aviation

  • Requires the Division of Aeronautics to work with the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment to evaluate, educate,  and provide technical assistance to airports regarding adverse impacts of aircraft noise and leaded aviation fuel

This new law aims to respond to community concerns about increased aviation activity in the Denver Metro area which is home to two of the top five airports with the most general aviation activity in the country. Leaded fuel, commonly used by recreation pilots and pilots-in-training, is a leading source of lead emissions and excessive exposure to lead has many harmful health effects across various bodily functions.

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