Warning labels on gas pumps:
Another suggestion from Climate Science:
Status update on Dump the Pump campaign 11/27/13
This campaign was endorsed by 350 Bay Area and began in 2012. While several elected city officials expressed general support for the idea, they urged us to do more legal research to make sure our proposal has solid legal footing.
Thanks to the legal research provided by Camille Glover, we learned that cities do have the authority to require such warnings and are not preempted by state or federal law in this case. However, we also learned that the warnings have to be "accurate and noncontroversial". This requirement is why cigarette warnings say "Surgeon General's Warning: . . ." rather than simply asserting that tobacco smoking is hazardous to your health. One way to comply with this requirement is to quote from California's AB32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. See example warnings below.
Given this legal research, we would now like to move to getting warning labels adopted in Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco. We are also buoyed by the unanimous vote of the Bay Area air district on November 6th to cut CO2 emissions by 80%, and by the unanimous vote earlier this year by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to urge divestment of their pension funds from fossil fuel companies. These unanimous votes are signs that the political environment is ripe for some dramatic action.
We understand that the final wording is up to the cities themselves, but we offer three suggestions:
Brief sign: (condensed quote from AB32):
Longer version: (exact quote from AB32):
Longest version: (Add California Air Quality Board finding): (image to follow soon)
We need supporters to meet with city council members and to attend hearings when scheduled. Please let us know if you would like to be part of such delegations, particularly if you live in Berkeley, Oakland, or San Francisco. Please join our google group and be part of the conversation!
We are also happy to report that we have a friendly rival with a group in Canada (http://ourhorizon.org/) that is working to put labels on gas pumps there. We can't let them beat us here in the Bay Area! The leader of the that effort, Rob Shirkey, has also given us a number of excellent arguments supporting warning labels (see below)
We also discussed the proposal to ask cities to post graphical signs on city streets to publicize their climate action plans (in addition to the warning labels). This is to address the issue that current U.S. court rulings do not allow graphic warning labels (unlike in Canada where cigarette warning labels have graphic images). However, we have learned that cities can install signs on public streets with any graphic they choose, e.g. the nuclear free signs that are up in Berkeley. This could be a project for art students to convey an anti-CO2 message. We would not want a sign that simply proclaims a city to be "green", however, without some real steps (such as the warning labels) to back it up. Feel free to send us any suggested graphics—a clean sky is the limit!
We are also consider expanding the Dump the Pump team to promote all low and non-CO2 forms of transportation--transit, bikes, pedestrians, electric cars running on renewable energy; and possibly renaming the team--perhaps something like “Go Clean California” or “Going Green California--Vamos Verde”
Future tasks include:
- Continue outreach to environmental and community groups to gain endorsements. Continued gathering of petition signatures and follow up, especially in Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco, but not limited to those cities.
- Consolidate a link to all Bay Area Climate Action Plans—e.g. www.ClimateAction.gov. We need to talk to the various city climate action staff members to ask them to do this.
- Meet with city council members to get their support . Goal is to meet with each council member and make it a unanimous vote. Take careful notes to see if the council member understands global warming or is in denial. Keep a record of the position of each council member so we can publicize it in the next election—both positive and negative.
- Work with city attorneys to draft model legislation and spread it around the Bay Area
- Attend public hearings and testify in support of the resolution
- Be prepared to withstand a furious assault in the form of ridicule, anger, and denial-- orchestrated by the oil companies. Remember that this is a question of math, chemistry and physics, not politics, economics, or philosophy. We have to stop using fossil fuels if civilization is to continue. Don't let the opposition get you down! Let's have some fun!
- If we win the gas pump labels, we move on to other cities in the Bay Area and the nation. Then we go on to all oil/fossil fuel company advertising—magazines, TV, etc. should have warnings, or just be banned, like cigarette commercials.
Keep in mind that this is just one part of a movement to tax carbon, get cities and schools to divest from oil company stocks, end subsidies for fossil fuels, support alternative energy, and save the planet. Join us, and we can do this! 2.
Some important arguments supporting warning labels from Rob Shirkey:
1. Advertising works! Saying that labels will do no good is the same as saying that advertising is a waste of money. We know that businesses would not spend billions on advertising if they didn't know it was helpful to selling their products.
2. Labels are necessary since there is no immediate feedback to consumers that their actions are harming the environment; the warning provides that feedback.
3. Labels are also necessary because the actions of a single person are diluted, but the collective result of gas use is serious climate disruption.
4. Depending on how the message is conveyed, labels can also alert consumers of the external affects of their gas use--extinction of species, floods, droughts, heatwaves, fires, extreme weather. Ideally these externalities should be represented in the price of the gas--e.g. a gas tax or gas fee and dividend, but, lacking that at the moment, the warning label provides this information to the consumer. In fact, requiring a simple warning label is far less restrictive than a gas tax. It is hard to imagine a less restrictive way to convey this information that needs to be conveyed.
--Jack Lucero Fleck for 350 Bay Area