Berkeley plans gas-pump warning labels

BERKELEY, Calif. — The San Francisco Bay Area city of Berkeley is moving forward with plans to put climate-change warning labels on gas pumps in what could be the first such requirement of its kind in the nation.

The city’s community environmental advisory commission called on the city manager last week to draft an ordinance for the labels. The city council is expected to vote on the ordinance in the fall, the Oakland Tribune reported on Friday.

A draft of the possible sign posted by the San Francisco Chronicle informs drivers that burning gas releases carbon dioxide and the state has determined that carbon dioxide emissions cause global warming. It says global warming caused by carbon dioxide emissions poses a serious threat to the state’s economic well-being, public health, natural resources and environment.

“It’s not going to be earth-shattering consequences, but I think it’s a clever way to get more people to think,” City Councilman Kriss Worthington told the Tribune. “It’s not going to immediately cease purchases at the gas pump. That’s not our goal. The point of sale is a great place to have people stop and think about the impact.”

The Western States Petroleum Association said the labels reflect the state and city’s opinions, not fact, and would force “unwanted speech in violation of the First Amendment.”

“Far less restrictive means exist to disseminate this information to the general public without imposing onerous restrictions on the businesses,” Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the association, wrote in a letter to the advisory commission.

Worthington said the city attorney and outside counsel have reviewed the proposal’s legality, and none of the 20 gas stations in Berkeley has indicated it disapproves.

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