BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                              Senator Wieckowski, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 
          Bill No:           SB 778
          |Author:    |Allen                                                |
          |Version:   |4/20/2015              |Hearing      |4/29/2015       |
          |           |                       |Date:        |                |
          |Urgency:   |No                     |Fiscal:      |Yes             |
          |Consultant:|Joanne Roy                                           |
          |           |                                                     |
          SUBJECT:  Automotive oil source reduction

          Existing law:  
          1. Pursuant to the California Oil Recycling Enhancement Act  
             (Act), (Public Resources Code 48600 et seq.):

             A.    Establishes a program to encourage the recycling of  
                used oil.

             B.    Authorizes the Department of Resources Recycling and  
                Recovery (CalRecycle) to award grants to and work with  
                local governments, non-profit entities, and private  
                companies in order to develop and advance certain  
                developments in lubricating oil, such as oil recycling,  
                collection, research, testing, and re-refining.

             C.    Charges a fee on all oil sold in California to fund  
                local curbside oil pickup programs, local collection  
                facilities, and rebates to oil manufacturers.

             D.    Provides that a person convicted of violating the Act  
                is guilty of an infraction, which is punishable by a fine  
                of not more than $100/day for each day the violation  

          This bill:


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          Requires all automotive oil sold in this state be certified by  
          the oil manufacturer to achieve a minimum useful life of 10,000  
          miles on and after January 1, 2018.

          1. Types of Oil.

          Oil comes in a variety - conventional motor oil, premium  
             conventional oil, semi-synthetic, full-synthetic, or  

             A.    Conventional oil.  This is the oil used in bulk at  
                dealerships and is the cheapest at auto stores.  It is  
                fossil fuel oil.  Conventional oil tends to break down and  
                separate more quickly than synthetic oil [due to heat and  

             B.    Full-synthetic oil.  This oil is made for high-tech  
                engines.  If these oils pass stringent special tests, it  
                means they have superior, longer-lasting performance in  
                critical areas, such as viscosity index and protection  
                against engine deposits.  They flow better at low  
                temperatures and maintain peak lubrication at high  
                temperatures.  Although it is considered an excellent  
                quality oil, synthetics are about three times as expensive  
                as conventional oil and not always necessary for some  
                engines.  However, some engines call for synthetic only  
                such as Corvette, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

             According to Popular Mechanics, petroleum-type engine oil  
                contains a mixture of several different types of base oil.  
                 Oil companies typically pick from a selection of five  
                groups, each of which is produced in a different way and  
                in different viscosities.  The more expensive groups are  
                more highly processed, in some cases with methods that  
                produce a lubricant that can be classified as a synthetic.  
                 The full synthetics contain chemicals that may be derived  
                from petroleum but are altered so much that they are not  
                considered natural oil anymore.


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             In general, synthetic oils have a lower environmental impact,  
                higher vehicle performance, and can extend the time  
                between oil changes.

             C.    Synthetic Blend Oil.  This oil is a mix of synthetic  
                and conventional oils, which is formulated to provide  
                protection for heavier loads and high temperatures.  This  
                generally means they are less volatile and evaporate less,  
                which reduces oil loss.  They are less expensive than  
                full-synthetic oils.

             D.    High-Mileage Oil.  This oil is formulated for vehicles  
                with higher mileage.  They may have higher viscosities,  
                higher dose of antiwear additives, and are formulated with  
                seal conditioners that flow into the pores of the seals to  
                restore their shape and increase their flexibility.   
                High-mileage oils have ingredients to take care of older  
                engines, like conditioners, seal swells, antioxidants,  
                detergents and wear or friction additives.  Typically they  
                use a viscosity modifier that is durable and will not lose  
                viscosity very easily.  These oils need to stay thicker  
                longer to protect engine parts.  

          2. Oil Additives.

          Oil is comprised of base oil package and additives.  Base oil  
             package in any oil makes up anywhere from 70 to 95% of the  
             mix, the rest comprised of additives.  Use of additives can  
             improve and maintain oil performance.  Manufacturers add in  
             various chemicals and minerals to change how the oil works  
             within an engine, including viscosity-index improvers,  
             detergents, dispersants, antiwear agents, friction modifiers,  
             pour-point depressants, antioxidants, foam inhibitors, and  
             rust/corrosion inhibitors.  For example, in high-mileage oil,  
             the manufacturers may add a higher level of anti-wear agents,  
             corrosion inhibitors and seal conditioners to maximize an  
             aging engine so that it can run longer.

          3. Extended-Life Oils.

          Many oil companies are releasing extended-life oils that are  
             guaranteed for specific mileage listed on the bottle.  For  
             example, Mobil's most advanced fully synthetic product is  


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             guaranteed for 15,000 miles.  The company recommends it for  
             vehicles that are beyond their warranty period because many  
             automakers will void the warranty if the owner does not  
             follow the manufacturer's recommended service intervals.

          4. Automotive Oil Changes.

          Changing the oil in a motor vehicle is necessary to protect the  
             engine, keeping vital engine parts well lubricated so that  
             they do not overheat.  An engine cannot function without it  
             and going too long between oil changes can cause permanent  
             damage to an engine over time.

          Depending on the vehicle, the intervals for required oil changes  
             vary.  For example, many newer models require an oil change  
             at least every 5,000 miles; some require every 15,000 miles.

          Oil change information is located in a vehicle owner's manual  
             and many automakers post their manuals online.  Automaker oil  
             change recommendations differ depending on driving conditions  
             as well as car make, model and year.  According to car  
             manufacturers, for driving conditions considered "severe"  
             (e.g. extensive idling or stop and go traffic; extreme  
             weather or humidity; repeated short-distance trips of less  
             than five miles; or towing a trailer or hauling heavy  
             materials), the oil should be changed more frequently or at  
             shorter mileage intervals than for conditions considered  

          In addition, some automakers have installed oil life monitors in  
             their vehicles with varying capabilities - the basic versions  
             are maintenance reminders based on mileage while the more  
             advanced systems take information from various sensors  
             throughout the vehicle and use an algorithm to predict the  
             life of the oil.  These systems are calibrated to work with  
             the factory-recommended oil.  Although these systems take the  
             guess work out of knowing when the next oil service should  
             be, many people have preconceived notions about oil change  
             intervals such as all cars need the oil changed every 3,000  

          5. Used Oil.

             A.    Used Oil in California.


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             According to CalRecycle, in 2005, the latest year for which  
                statistics are available, approximately 153.5 million  
                gallons of used oil is generated annually.  59% of that  
                oil was recycled.

             B.    Used Oil Can Harm the Environment.

             According to CalRecycle, can contain such contaminants as  
                lead, magnesium, copper, zinc, chromium, arsenic,  
                chloride, cadmium, and chlorinated compounds.  Used motor  
                oil poses a great risk to the environment - oil poured  
                down drains or onto the ground can work its way into  
                ground and surface waters causing serious pollution  
                because it is insoluble, persistent and contains heavy  
                metal and toxic chemicals.  Used oil that is not recycled  
                often finds its way into California's waterways - lakes,  
                streams, and ocean - via the stormwater system.  Used oil  
                in waterways threatens fish, waterfowl, insects, and  
                aquatic life.  One gallon of used oil can foul the taste  
                of 1 million gallons of water.  Federal reports indicate  
                that used motor oil accounts for more than 40% of the  
                total oil pollution in the nation's harbors and waterways.

          1. Purpose of Bill.  

          According to the author, "Every major motor oil brand offers  
             higher quality, synthetic oils that are better for engines,  
             and are far more environmentally friendly than conventional  
             oils.  Higher quality oils reduce waste and pollution and, if  
             used more widely, can increase gas mileage in vehicles  
             equivalent to taking a half a million cars off the road in  
             California.  Yet only 20% of the oil sold in the state is of  
             this higher quality.  SB 778 requires all motor oil sold in  
             the State to meet quality standards which will be measurably  
             better for vehicles and the environment than conventional  

          "Many drivers spend 2-3% more on gasoline because lower quality  
             motor oil causes a decrease in gas mileage.  This poor  
             quality oil also requires drivers to change their oil 2 - 3  
             times more often compared to higher quality synthetic oil, at  


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             recommended intervals of 3,000 - 5,000 miles, costing  
             consumers more and producing an unnecessary amount of oil  
             waste.  Low quality motor oil can also cause increased engine  
             wear, costing drivers hundreds of dollars in unneeded  

          "The high frequency of oil changes caused by low quality motor  
             oil makes used motor oil one of the largest hazardous waste  
             streams in California.  Over 115 million gallons of motor oil  
             are sold in the state each year; and only half of it is  
             recycled with the other half ending up in the waste stream,  
             polluting our waterways and ocean, or burning off, causing  
             air pollution.  Also, according [to] the Petroleum Quality  
             Institute of America, some of the motor oil on store shelves  
             is of such poor quality that it could potentially damage a  
             car's engine.  In fact, six states have banned motor oil that  
             is not quality certified, brands such as Black Knight, Lube  
             State and MaxiGuard MG.

          "Higher quality oils provide a greater level of protection for  
             an engine, protect the engine longer, are better for the  
             environment, and are already offered by every major motor oil  
             brand, effectively protect engines from wear with oil change  
             intervals at 15,000 miles or longer."

          2. Does the Proposed Solution Match the Problem?

          The author states, "Roughly 40% of motor oil can never be  
             collected for recycling because it is lost in use, either  
             burned in the combustion chamber or dripped onto streets and  
             parking lots.  This presents a serious environmental problem  
             because traditional motor oil is insoluble and contains heavy  
             metals and toxic chemicals.  This toxic-laden oil makes its  
             way into lakes, streams, and oceans via the stormwater system  
             and endangers fish, waterfowl, insects, and other aquatic  
             life.  "

          This bill requires all automotive oil sold in California to meet  
             a 10,000 mile interval standard by 2018.  The intent of the  
             bill is to reduce the amount of used oil that is generated by  
             elongating the useful lifespan of automotive oil in cars.  

             A.    Notion of Every 3,000 Miles.


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             Regardless of the quality of the motor oil being put into the  
                car, reduction of the amount of used oil generated more  
                directly correlates to the quantity of oil consumed.  

             It is not uncommon for people to believe that a car should  
                have its oil changed every 3,000 miles.  In 2011,  
                CalRecycle found that nearly half of California drivers  
                were still changing their oil at 3,000 mile intervals or  
                sooner.  This long-held notion can result in unnecessary  
                oil changes as well as more used oil to dispose.  

             A question arises as to whether changing the specifications  
                in motor oil sold will reduce the actual amount of oil  

             B.    Educating the Vehicle Owner.

             Oil change information is in the maintenance section of a  
                vehicle owner's manual.  Also, many automakers have put  
                their manuals online.  In addition, CalRecycle has an  
                easily accessible, interactive webpage to see how often  
                one should change the oil for a car based on the make,  
                model, and year of the car.

             Many cars nowadays require a minimum oil change of every  
                5,000 or 7,500 miles.  Ford Motor Company recommends oil  
                changes for many of its new vehicles at 10,000 miles.   
                Some cars commonly seen on the road require an oil change  
                every 15,000 miles.  However, if a person does not read  
                the owner's manual or check online for the manufacturer  
                recommendation, and habitually changes the oil every 3,000  
                miles, how much impact will setting a minimum standard of  
                10,000 miles for oil have?  

             According to CalRecycle, "[c]hanging motor oil according to  
                the manufacturer specifications would reduce motor-oil  
                demand in California by about 10 million gallons a year."   
                (Jerry Hirsch, "State hopes to break car owners' habit of  
                changing oil too often," Los Angeles Times, December 15,  

             A question arises as to whether the goal of reducing the  
                amount of used oil generated can be more effectively  
                achieved through the education of vehicle owners rather  


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                than requiring a minimum standard on oil sold.

          3. Possible Unintended Consequences:  

             A.    Potential Voiding of Car's Warranty.

             Most vehicles sold include warranties by the manufacturers,  
                dealerships, and/or insurance companies.  A warranty is an  
                agreement between the manufacturer, dealership, or  
                insurance company and the customer that should something  
                break, malfunction, or otherwise go wrong with the vehicle  
                within a certain period of time or miles driven, then the  
                manufacturer, dealership, or insurance company will repair  
                or replace the component at no additional cost to the  
                customer.  Usually, such agreements require the customer  
                to regularly maintain the vehicle like changing the oil on  
                specified intervals such as every 5,000 miles.  It may be  
                possible that the owner accidentally voids the warranty if  
                he/she follows the mileage on the bottle of the lubricant  
                oil rather than as prescribed by the vehicle manual or  
                warranty agreement.  

             B.    The Infrequently Driven Vehicle.

             For a "weekend" vehicle or one that is driven for low miles,  
                oil maintenance may not directly correlate with the  
                owner's manual and maintenance may have to occur more than  
                expected.  Over time, oil becomes contaminated by gases  
                that blow by the pistons - the longer the oil sits with  
                that contamination, the more it degrades.  So, regardless  
                of the oil, which would have a useful life of 10,000  
                miles, the oil change interval would likely have to occur  
                more frequently in the case of a "weekend" car.  It is  
                questionable whether this bill would have an effect on  
                reducing the amount of oil used for such vehicles.

          4. Is the California Oil Recycling Enhancement Act the Right  

          This bill requires, on and after 2018, all automotive oil sold  
             in this state to be certified by the oil manufacturer to  
             achieve a minimum useful life of 10,000 miles when used in  
             accordance with the automobile manufacturers' recommendations  
             and must meet current automotive industry standards.  


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          SB 778 proposes to place this requirement in the California Oil  
             Recycling Enhancement Act, which is located in the Public  
             Resources Code.  The act establishes a program to encourage  
             the recycling of used oil and authorizes CalRecycle to award  
             grants to and work with local governments and other entities  
             to develop and make environmental advancements for the end of  
             the lifecycle of oil.  

          Within the Petroleum Products Program, the California Department  
             of Food and Agriculture maintains and enforces the minimum  
             quality specification for most petroleum and automotive  
             products sold in the state, as well as regulates the  
             advertising and labeling of these products.  Standards for  
             lubricating oils are located in the Business and Professions  
             Code 13460 et seq.

          This bill places mandates on automotive oil at the beginning of  
             the lifecycle, what must go into the car, and the level of  
             performance required for the use of the product.  To keep  
             consistency with existing law dealing with this type of  
             product, the author may wish to consider moving the  
             provisions of this bill to the Business and Professions Code  
             relating to standards for lubricating oils.

            Related/Prior Legislation

          SB 916 (Correa) (2014) would have specified that synthetic oil  
          included oil composed of biobased feedstock for the purposes of  
          regulating disposal and recycling of used oil; would have  
          prohibited on and after January 1, 2017, the sale of lubricating  
          oil in the state unless the lubricating oil met certain  
          requirements, including meeting or exceeding minimal standards  
          for biodegradability.  (NOTE:  SB 916 was subsequently amended  
          to address firearms).

          SB 546 (Lowenthal), Chapter 353, Statutes of 2009, made broad  
          changes to the Act to encourage the best re-use of used oil and  
          reduce air pollution from the use of used oil, including:   
          raising the fee paid by lubricating oil manufacturers from $0.16  
          to $0.26 per gallon; increasing the incentives paid for  
          recycling used oil; increasing the testing requirements for used  
          oil transporters; and, requiring a life-cycle analysis of used  


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          SOURCE:                    Californians Against Waste  

          American Logistics Company
          American Lung Association
          Blue River Advisors
          California Coastal Coalition
          California League of Conservation Voters
          Clean Green Technologies
          Coalition for Clean Air
          Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation
          Colorado Ocean Coalition
          Environment California
          Friends of the River
          Marine Watch International
          Mission Blue/Sylvia Earle Alliance
          Napa Recycling & Waste Services
          Roost LA
          Sierra Club California
          Solazyme, Inc.
          Strategic Ocean Solutions
          Surfrider Foundation
          T2e Energy
          The TerraMar Project
          Turtle Island Restoration Network
          West Marin Environmental Action Committee
          Wholly H2O
           OPPOSITION:    None on file  

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