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Press Release: Berkeley Environmental Commission Backs Warning Labels on Gas Pumps

From Jamie Brooks, 350 Bay Area
Monday June 16, 2014 - 08:13:00 PM

Proposed Ordinance Opposed by Petroleum Lobby as “Political Opinion”

The Berkeley Community Environmental Advisory Commission voted 6 to 1 to recommend to the City Council that they direct the City Manager to draft an enforceable ordinance to require a climate change information label on all fuel dispensing facilities (gas stations). 

Such gasoline pump warning labels are the goal of the “Beyond The Pump” campaign, part of the 350 Bay Area climate activism grassroots group. Modeled on warnings on cigarette packaging, the group’s purpose is to provide a gentle reminder at the point of purchase that pumping gas contributes to carbon emissions and therefore to global warming. The proposed warnings also refer to the City’s Climate Action Plan for alternatives to driving for commuting purposes. 

“We are glad that the Berkeley Community Environmental Advisory Commission saw the importance of warning labels on gas pumps,” said Beyond The Pump member, Jack Fleck. “It is simply a scientific fact that pumping gas does contribute to the global process that is devastating our climate, analogous to cancer caused by tobacco." 

A letter from the oil lobbying group, Western States Petroleum Association (“WSPA”), however, calls the proposed labels “statements advancing the political opinions of the City and State regarding the alleged impacts of greenhouse gases.” 

The WSPA letter states “the State of California’s policy position (evidently shared by the City) that “global warming caused by greenhouse gases poses a serious threat to the economic well-being, public health, natural resources, and the environment of California” … “the most contentious issues in existence today, and they do not convey “fact” but instead convey a policy determination by the State of California." 

Fleck continued, "This is part of an ongoing attempt by the oil industry to position global warming as "political opinion" rather than scientifically confirmed observations and facts of daily life. As President Obama said recently, climate change is a 'fact' and requires immediate action." 

The Commission proceeded to approve their recommendation, in spite of the WSPA letter, and requested to see proposed wording for the labels within three months. 

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