Mike Rogge

Motor Oil Mandate Proposed

By Mike Rogge

Capitol Update, May 8, 2015 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) has authored SB 778 – Automotive Oil Source Reduction, which constrains the range of motor oil products available for gasoline and diesel engines used in passenger cars and light duty trucks. His bill would limit the sale of all motor oil for these purposes to be produced from synthetic or biosynthetic sources by January 2018 and require that they achieve a minimum drain interval of 10,000 miles. Senator Allen maintains that these motor oils are less toxic and the added change interval would in the long run save people money by decreased oil changes.

It was pointed out, however, during a recent Senate Environmental Quality Committee meeting that any oil that has been used in an automotive engine is a hazardous waste by the time it has reached its useful life in an auto engine. The cost of biosynthetic and synthetic lubricants is two to three times higher than standard motor oil, so the cost trade-off versus increased life is “a wash” at best.

Automotive engines are increasingly being produced which can go longer between oil changes with some now in the 10,000 to 15,000 mile range, but most consumers are still changing their oil between 3,000 and 7,500 miles out of habit. With the cars lasting longer these days and people holding on to them longer, mandating the exclusive use of the more expensive oil in 2018 would just cost most consumers more money with no environmental savings.

A further complication with this proposal would be the industry’s ability to gear up to exclusively produce synthetic or biosynthetic lubricants in less than three years. These oils make up only five percent of the nation’s sales at the present time and the manufacturing process to produce these oils is completely different.

SB 778 passed out of both the Senate Natural Resources and the Environmental committees in April. It is now sitting in Suspense in Senate Appropriations.  The increased cost of oil for use in just State vehicles appears to be at least $350,000 annually under this bill.

CMTA is opposing SB 778. It would significantly disrupt the industry seemingly without a benefit.

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