Re-refining

California bill seeks to expand definition of “used oil”

The first hearing on California A.B. 628, an Assembly Bill which encourages the use of bio-lubes by expanding the state’s definition of used oil, will be held on 28 April. The bill aims to “clarify that the synthetic oil referred to in the definition of ‘used oil’ may be from any source.” If approved, it would change the definition of what the California Department of Toxic Substances Control is allowed to regulate—and therefore, allowed to recover. The bill was introduced by Richard Bloom (D-50th District) on 24 February.

Commenting on the proposed bill, NORA, a trade association based in Gainesville, Va., U.S.A., said that while the bill’s intention of furthering the recycling of bio-lubricants is in line with NORA’s primary mission, recycling bio-based oils is economically and technically difficult.

“The chemistry of these two categories of lubricants is too dissimilar to permit recycling of any mixture of these materials,” NORA said. Additionally, the technology to effectively separate petroleum and non-petroleum products in a mixture is not currently available, it added.

Instituting a system for recycling bio-lubricants would have to begin with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) altering its definition of used oil, as well as the 50 states and other jurisdictions, according to NORA.

“NORA questions the ability of any state legislature to weaken the federal law that governs hazardous waste management and oil recycling,” it said.

The bill seeks to expand an exemption in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). An attempt to relax basic hazardous waste rules would be immediately considered unlawful by the RCRA, NORA said.

According to NORA, this bill is “similar to California SB 916 that NORA and its members worked to defeat last year.”

The Western States Petroleum Association, which is based in California and represents the oil and natural gas industry in the state, has not taken a position on the bill.

Bloom’s office was contacted several times for comment, but we did not get any response.

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