The City Council has met twice in closed sessions to discuss the lease of the 37-year-old city owned fuel farm and unless something has changed, they are being advised the tanks must be leased, leaded fuel must be sold, and all without a clear and concise written legal report as to why. With a city legal staff of thirty lawyers, many of whom receive a salary and benefit package well over $250,000, the Council and residents deserve a legal analysis of the Consent Decree, FAA regulations and proposed lease before continuing the sale of leaded fuel and leasing any tanks for leaded or other toxic fuels. The City Council must demand a full legal analysis that discusses laws, obligations, breaches and remedies, and what options there are for cures and declaratory judgements by the courts. We all need to see it, especially the Council.
The science has shown that lead is unsafe at any level and several studies have shown the airport to be the source of elevated airborne lead in the area. The tanks in dispute have leaked in the past and could suffer catastrophic failure during an earthquake. Leaks, or no leaks, the city does not have to assist in the toxic fuel business unless clearly proven otherwise in writing for all to see. We have asked repeatedly, as the council did last November, what if any agreements or obligations require us to lease tanks. Clear and convincing facts have not been presented; we have only heard speculation about reprisals from the FAA and others. A professional and full legal analysis is long overdue.
The city has signed a letter to the EPA asking for leaded aviation fuel to be banned in the USA, while at the same time the city is telling council and residents that we must offer leaded fuel at SMO and store it in city owned tanks. It makes no sense that planes are still using leaded fuel in the USA; it makes less sense for the city calling for a ban and then selling and storing it and other toxic fuels in city tanks.
Airport discussions that affect the health and welfare of residents must be based upon fact, not speculation, and be open and transparent. Our City Council needs to demand facts from the City Attorney and make every effort possible to protect the folks that elected them as well as the residents of Los Angeles who are also affected by our actions.
In a few days over 260 people signed a petition to stop leasing the tanks. It is unlikely anyone wants to see leaded fuel for sale at the airport. Even pilots are claiming they do not like using leaded fuel. There are times leaders need to lead, and this is one of them. Breaking with status quo is necessary at times and leaders must face the challenge with facts that include opportunities, risks, and remedies. Doing the minimum is not good enough when human health is put in jeopardy daily.
Years ago, the effects of lead and toxic fuels were minimized and denied. The science can no longer be denied. The solutions cannot be denied either.
City Council: Please get the legal facts analyzed and present them to the public concisely and openly. Do not lease the tanks. Make every effort possible to get the lead out of the air, ground and water of Santa Monica and beyond.
Alan Levenson, Santa Monica