May 1 - California Senate Committee Approves Bill to Ensure Motor Oil Lasts 10,000 Miles

SACRAMENTO - The California Senate Committee on Environmental Quality on Wednesday approved legislation that would ensure all automotive oil sold in California provides 10,000 miles of lubrication. Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) authored SB 778 to protect both consumers and the environment.

"Right now we’re seeing millions of Californians paying for motor oil that performs poorly and requires expensive oil changes far too often," said Senator Allen. "By improving motor oil standards, we can save consumers money, improve gas mileage and finally eliminate unsafe oils that can actually damage our cars and trucks."

"We’re seeing improvements in fuel efficiency and other clean technologies undermined by ridiculously low standards for motor oil that have been around since before seatbelts were required in cars," said Mark Murray, Executive Director of Californians Against Waste, sponsor of SB 778. "In fact, if you read the fine print on some of the bottles of oil at your local discount stores, you’ll see they’re only safe for engines built before 1930."

By reducing the number of oil changes Californians have to pay for every year, SB 778 will also reduce one of the largest hazardous waste streams in California. Over 115 million gallons of motor oil are sold in the state each year, but only about half of it is recycled. The other half ends in the waste stream, polluting waterways and the ocean, or burning off, causing air pollution.

In addition, many drivers spend 2-3% more on gasoline because low quality motor oil causes a decrease in gas mileage; over the course of 15,000 miles of driving, these drivers spend an average of 45 dollars more on gasoline. SB 778 is one of several bills in the Senate seeking to implement Governor Jerry Brown’s recently announced goal of reducing petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent by 2030. It will also help the state meet the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 as announced in the Governor’s Executive Order yesterday.

Low quality motor oil also contains hazardous materials such as heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon. One gallon of used motor oil can foul the taste of 1 million gallons of drinking water.

SB 778 would require all automotive oil sold in California to provide 10,000 miles of safe lubrication by 2018. It is supported by businesses, local governments, and consumer, health and environmental advocacy groups throughout the country, including the American Lung Association, Sierra Club California and the California Coastal Commission. The bill now goes to the Senate Committee on Appropriations.