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“[A] government of the people, by the people, [and] for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Those optimistic words, shared almost 200 years ago by good old Abe Lincoln during the Gettysburg Address, seem to be slowly fading into history. As citizens of the United States, we vote senators and representatives into power in order to advocate for what we want to see changed. Whether it be for protection or advancement, it is the power of democracy that helps get progressive ideas into law.

Here at Earthgarage, we’ve been looking into various bills around the country aimed at reducing, or removing, all copper found in brake pads through our Give Water a Brake! petition. Washington and California were the first two successful states to move towards banning copper and other hazardous materials in brake pads. Fellow contributor Stacie Schwartz covered another proposed copper-ban bill in New York that has yet to be voted on, and I looked into the holdup within the Rhode Island bill. Both pieces of legislation are still up for a vote, but what I found in Oregon was a very interesting facet of modern day democracy.

In early 2011, Oregon Senate Bill 341 (SB 341) was introduced into the Senate for vote on the reduction of copper in brake pads. Through a loophole in the bureaucratic process, SB 341’s simple relation to motor vehicles allowed for lawmakers to change the bill in it’s entirety. Between the time of introduction and signing, Senators and Representatives reversed the course of the bill and removed all mention of brake pads. The end result of SB 341 was the passing of a bill that pushed for stricter enforcement and fines for those drivers who failed to yield to pedestrians at roundabouts.

Later during the legislative session, SB 945 was reintroduced as a followup to SB 341. This time, Senator Jackie Dingfelder and her staff prepared a bill with a much more defined explanation of the copper ban in brake pads. It passed through the Senate with few amendments, but later died in the House as a result of lobbying by the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) and the Northwest Automotive Trades Association (NATA). Amongst the few reasons given for the bill dying in the House was that California and it’s proactive stance towards removing copper in brake pads would eventually become the industry standard for brake pads.

West Coast

The Pacific Northwest, just like the East coast, has reason to protect their iconic salmon not solely for the environmental threats against losing this valuable portion of the ecosystem, but also for the economic value that salmon provide for the economies. With Washington and California already making headway in the fight against copper in brake pads, having Oregon in tow would secure the entirety of the US Pacific coast, along with the the watersheds and tributaries that flow into the ocean. Just some food for thought as the summer driving season begins.

Give Water a Brake is sponsored by Ecostop, the only copper-free ceramic brake pad currently on the market.


Earthgarage – Greener Car. Fatter Wallet.