San Francisco, Berkeley to Require Carbon Labels at Gas Stations

The cities of San Francisco and Berkeley are in the process of passing legislation that would require fuel retailers to put new climate change warning labels on all gas pump nozzles in 2015, according to published reports. 

This would mark the first time that any city in the United States has mandated a climate change warning for fuel pumps.

San Francisco on Oct. 21 approved label language that reads: "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that a typical passenger vehicle burning one gallon of fuel produces on average almost 20 pounds of tailpipe carbon dioxide (CO2), which the EPA has determined is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change. This is a message from the city and county of San Francisco."

Fuel retailers must put the new carbon label on gas nozzles by March 1, 2015, or risk fines ranging between $100 and $500.

The Berkeley City Council is expected to take up a similar proposal on Nov. 18. The proposed label reads: "Gasoline consumption releases CO2, a green house gas determined by the state of California to contribute to global warming."

The Western States Petroleum Association has been voicing its opposition to the labels, arguing that they violate fuel retailers' First Amendment rights because the government can't force a business to state information unless it prevents consumer deception.

In a June letter to the City of Berkeley, WSPA said the city's proposal directly violates the First Amendment of the Constitution by forcing businesses to advance the state of California's policy position.

WSPA urged the city to consider supporting and funding other avenues of promoting its viewpoints, rather than adopting unconstitutional mandatory labels forcing gasoline retailers to convey the state's and the city's views on climate change. 

The association has not said whether it plans to fight the label in court.

Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman's photo

Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman

Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman develops and executes communications strategies to advance NATSO’s public relations and advocacy goals. Tiffany also develops and oversees partnerships related to the NATSO Foundation’s public outreach initiatives. Tiffany lives in the D.C. metro area with her husband and their two sons.More
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