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Kevin Dayton

Berkeley Considers Climate Change Labels on Fuel Pumps: Submit Your Ideas for Words of Warning!

UPDATE: The Berkeley City Council voted 7-2 to proceed with its plan to mandate climate change warning labels on fuel pumps. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is also expected to consider a label mandate.

Tonight (November 18, 2014) the Berkeley City Council will discuss issuing a directive to the City Manager to “draft an ordinance within the next three months, enforceable under Berkeley Codes, to require climate change labels at fuel dispensing facilities.” A staff report indicates that the costs of this program are expected to be less than $20,000 in the first year and considerably less thereafter. (What a deal!) Enforcement fines are anticipated to pay for some of it.

Staff would be assigned to develop the ordinance, procure and distribute the labels, monitor compliance, and enforce the ordinance. The city would also incur costs to design, produce and deliver the labels.

According to a staff report, this label program is a “behavioral change strategy to encourage people to use alternative methods of transpiration (sic).” The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) has threatened to file a lawsuit challenging this ordinance on the ground that it violates the First Amendment’s prohibition against “compelled speech.”

But who cares about the First Amendment or Free Speech? The fun part of this process will be choosing the verbiage on the labels.

Perhaps the Berkeley city staff will celebrate democracy and hold a People’s Contest in which it takes suggestions from anywhere on the planet. Who knows if someone from Vanuatu – a nation threatened by sea level rise caused by global warming – ends up coining the perfect slogan that changes behavior and gets Berkeley drivers out of their cars, thereby ending the Automobile Era and saving the planet from many predicted calamities.

Here are 25 proposed entries, all guaranteed to discourage drivers from getting fuel:

1. This Pump Will Be Underwater in 2200 If You Use It Today.

2. You’re Sharing This Special Gas-Pumping Moment with a White Christian Male in South Carolina Who Likes Country Music and Owns a XL Pick-Up Truck.

3. If the United Nations International Court of Justice Truly Sought Justice for This World, You Would Be Brought Before the Tribunal for This Criminal Act.

4. No Shirt, No Shoes, No Clothes, But Still Get Service. It’s Your Driving That Offends Us.

5. Walking on Interstate 80: The Healthy Alternative.

6. KPFA 94.1 FM Pacifica Radio Powers Many Movements Through Listener Contributions. Why Must You Power Your Movements with a Combustion Engine?

7. Berkeley Wisdom: We Gave Two Car Dealerships a Big Waiver on Building Permit Fees on April 1, 2014 and Get 8.5% of Our City’s Sales Tax Revenue from Vehicle Sales, but We Don’t Want You to Use Them.

8. Pumping Gas Has Been Shown to Cause Guilt and Shame Requiring Additional Therapy Sessions That Your Insurance Doesn’t Cover.

9. If You Break This Climate, It’s Yours.

10. Stop Driving Now. No Overnight Parking.

11. All Considerations About Climate Change Aside, You Would Be a Fool to Use a Credit Card Here.

12. This Label Will Inspire You to Pump Your Gas in Walnut Creek Instead.

13. This Pump is Monitored by Surveillance Cameras. We’ll Send the Images to Your Friends Who Are REAL Environmentalists.

14. You Are About to Offset the Carbon Credits Earned by the California High-Speed Rail Authority for Planting 3.84 Trees.

15. Please Contact Berkeley City Hall to Exercise Your Right to Have This Label Translated Into More Than 60 Languages.

16. Welcome to Berkeley. Now Get Out of Here Before You Leave a Carbon Footprint.

17. The Earth Goddess Began to Weep When You Pulled Up to This Pump.

18. This Nozzle Handle Was Previously Held by Thousands of Residents, and You Have No Clue Where Those Hands Have Been.

19. Our City’s Automated License Plate Reader System Saw You Park Your Car When You Didn’t Absolutely Have To Use It.

20. Use of This Gas Pump Is an Act of War Against the Peaceful People of the Island Nation of Kiribati.

21. George W. Bush Loves Big Oil – and So Do You.

22. Imagine If YOU Died, Decomposed, and Then Became Fuel for a Personal Transportation Vehicle.

23. We’ve Noticed Another Foul Stench in Berkeley, and It’s Coming from Your Selfishness.

24. WARNING: This City Contains Thought Patterns Known to the State of California to Cause Politicians to Seek Attention for Themselves by Enacting Inane New Laws.

25. This Label Is Intended to Make the Berkeley City Council Feel Good and You to Feel Bad. We’re Not Kidding.

Provide YOUR best 25 entries to the City of Berkeley:

November 18, 2014 Berkeley City Council Meeting Staff Reports on Climate Change Warning Labels on Gas Pumps

40.  a. Fuel Station Carbon Dioxide Labels (includes letter from WSPA threatening a First Amendment lawsuit)
From: Community Environmental Advisory Commission
 Request that the City Manager draft an ordinance within the next three months, enforceable under Berkeley Codes, to require climate change labels at fuel dispensing facilities, in compliance with applicable laws. The draft ordinance should be submitted to Community Environmental Advisory Commission and Energy Commission for review.
Financial Implications: See report
Contact: Nabil Al-Hadithy, Commission Secretary, 981-7400

b. Fuel Station Carbon Dioxide Labels
From: Energy Commission
 Adopt a Resolution directing the City Manager to prepare an ordinance requiring climate change labels at fuel dispensing facilities.
Financial Implications: See report
Contact: Neal DeSnoo, Commission Secretary, 981-7400

Meeting Agenda – November 18, 2014

Deferral and Eventual Waiver of Building Permit Fees to Assist Two Auto Dealerships to Remain in Berkeley – April 1, 2014


Kevin Dayton is the President & CEO of Labor Issues Solutions, LLC, and is the author of frequent postings about generally unreported California state and local policy issues at Follow him on Twitter at @DaytonPubPolicy.