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April 19, 2017

Volume 17 Issue 52

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Exceptions to be Made in Oil Ban

A California agency is working to adopt regulatory language on a law prohibiting the sale of any engine oil deemed obsolete by the American Petroleum Institute. As requested by lubricant manufacturers, regulators are considering exceptions for valid uses for obsolete oils.

The new law, which was known as assembly bill 808 before it went into effect in January 2016, prohibits the sale of any obsolete engine oil and requires product labels to clearly indicate its compliance with an API, ACEA or original equipment manufacturer specification and the lubricant’s viscosity grade. The law’s intent was to protect consumers from unknowingly purchasing engines oils that do not sufficiently protect their passenger car engines.

Engine oils declared obsolete by the American Petroleum Institute include API gasoline engine classifications SA through SH, API diesel engine classifications CA through CD-II; CE; CF-2; CF-4; CG-4, and International Lubricant Specification Advisory Committee classifications GF-1 through GF-4.

In a letter sent to the state’s Department of Food and Agriculture in March of 2016, the Independent Lubricant Manufacturer’s Association argued the bill inadvertently ignores valid and safe uses for obsolete oils. “LMA supports measures intended to prevent and reduce consumer and marketplace confusion regarding inactive service classifications for passenger car motor oils,” wrote ILMA’s Chief Executive Officer Holly Alfano in the letter.

Alfano went on to note that a strict reading of AB 808’s mandate would create unintended negative consequences to a number of the state’s consumers.  There are legitimate risks of damage to the engines of antique and classic cars if a current API class engine oil was used, she explained.

Kevin Schnepp, an environmental program manager with the department’s Division of Measurement Standards, said it is drafting regulatory language to remedy this issue. The California Department of Food and Agriculture continues to enforce the existing statute that went into effect in January 2016, while it works on fully developing and implementing the new regulatory language to address the use of specially formulated motor oils. Alfano told a reporter that ILMA continues to “provide comments to CDFA on the draft language shared in webinars and at other meetings, and [is having] ongoing conversations with CDFA staff.”

Photo: LazorPhotography/Fotolia

California's Department of Food and Agriculture's Division of Measurement Standards is working to develop regulatory language that will provide exceptions for specialty engine oils designed for a number of applications, including antique passenger cars.

The department plans to allow for exceptions for many non-highway and specialty applications, where oils deemed obsolete will provide adequate, though in some cases not the best, performance. The current draft revision includes exemptions for motor oils formulated for specialized non-highway applications, such as power production, agriculture, marine, 2-cycle engines, construction and mining, as well as oils formulated for air-cooled engines, historic vehicles and heavy-duty trucks and buses with spark-ignited engines that run on compressed or liquid natural gas.

Additionally, obsolete engine oil labels would need to include a performance statement noting the oil’s intended use, to help prevent consumers from purchasing a specialty motor oil that is not intended for modern vehicles.  This label will specify original equipment manufacturer engines for which the product is acceptable.

Schnepp does not know when the regulatory language will be completed and implemented. “Formal regulation development is a lengthy process,” said Schnepp. He did say the department will likely conduct another pre-rulemaking workshop where a detailed proposed timeline may be presented.

ILMA believes the department is on the right path but does not want to pass judgement on the regulatory language until a more finalized version is presented. Schnepp assured Lube Report that CDFA is working to address concerns of market players that have been inadvertently impacted by the law.