Sign outside a BP gas station in Chicago
Sign outside a BP gas station in Chicago - 
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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: British oil giant BP takes the wraps off the nation's first "green-certified" gas station in Los Angeles today. However despite the solar panels and the low-energy lighting, the product remains the same: planet-warming fossil fuels. From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk Sam Eaton has the story.

SAM EATON: BP says its green gas station is a living laboratory aimed at giving consumers what it calls a "little better" experience at the pump.

The "Helios House," as it's called, is equipped with 90 solar panels and the pumps show videos offering tips for greener living.

Environment California's Bernadette Del Chiaro says that's hardly a roadmap for moving the world "Beyond Petroleum."

BERNADETTE DEL CHIARO: Basically, what they're doing is putting green window dressing on an extremely dirty and dangerous product.

She says even though BP has greened its image by becoming the world's largest solar panel manufacturer, its bread and butter is still the carbon-based fuels blamed for global warming.

But green building consultant Charles Lockwood says it's hard to criticize BP for selling what consumers need.

CHARLES LOCKWOOD: This is a reflection of the society and the economy we live in. And until we're ready to change that, we're gonna need gas stations.

He says in the meantime, the pumps at those gas stations might as well be solar-powered.

In Los Angeles, I'm Sam Eaton for Marketplace.

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Follow Sam Eaton at @eatonsam