Assemblymember Richard Bloom

Two bills by state Rep. Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) are advancing through the legislative process.

AB 888, authored by Bloom, would set up the strongest protections in the country against the use of mirco-plastic particle abrasives, commonly referred to as “microbeads.”

The beads are used in products such as facial scrubs, soaps, and toothpaste. They have emerged as a pervasive form of pollution in waterways and marine environments. Most mircobeads are not biodegradable and absorb various toxins such as DDT, PCBs (flame retardents), and other industrial chemicals and are ingested or absorbed by a variety of marine life and other mammals. Because fish ingest these particles and absorb the toxins in their flesh, many in the scientific community also worry about the impacts on the fish, crabs, and shellfish that humans eat.

The bill passed the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee recently.

“Toxic microbeads are accumulating in our rivers, lakes and oceans at alarmingly high levels. We can and must act now,” said Bloom. “Continuing to use these harmful and unnecessary plastics when natural alternatives are widely available is simply irresponsible and will only result in significant cleanups costs to taxpayers who will have to foot the bill to restore our already limited water resources and ocean health.”

A second bill that seeks to clarify existing law and eliminate a falsely perceived barrier to allowing the recycling of biosynthetic motor oils, a biodegradable and nontoxic alternative to traditional motor oil passed its first legislative hurdle recently. The bill, AB 628, passed the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee on a 6-1 vote.

“The market for recycled biosynthetic oil, a much cleaner alternative to tradition motor oil, has been severely restricted by a misinterpretation of the law,” said Bloom. “By making this seemingly simple clarification to existing law, we will take a major step in reducing our reliance on foreign oil and accelerating our transition away from dirtier fossil fuels.”

Many companies have spent years developing bio-based, biosynthetic motor oils for use in automobiles. Independent testing not only shows biosynthetic motor oils to be among the highest rated products for protecting engines and machinery, they also are bio-based, biodegradable, nontoxic, and do not bio-accumulate in marine organisms.

State law is clear that bio-based oils are to be managed like any other used oil. However, some sectors of the industry have misinterpreted federal regulations to preclude the management of these bio-based oils as “used oils.” Federal law defining used oil was adopted in 1997, many years before the development of the bio-based fuels. However, the EPA recently stated that bio-based oils can be regulated as used oil because mixture of used bio-based oils still fits within the existing used oil definition. Nevertheless, many used oil recyclers remain uncertain and this has created a barrier to allowing this new technology into the market for purposes of recycling.

“Used motor oil is the largest source of hazardous waste in the state, and all potential solutions including environmentally acceptable lubricants, as well as recycling, need to be encouraged. AB 628 seeks to remove any perceived barriers to this goal,” added Bloom.

AB 628 must now pass a vote of the full Assembly before going to the Senate for further consideration.

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