Policy & Enforcement Briefing: FTC Order, Food Chemicals, German Renewables Cap
The Federal Trade Commission approved a final consent order settling charges that N.E.W. Plastics Corp. misled consumers and distributors about the recycled content, post-consumer recycled content, and recyclability of its products. The order relates to claims about N.E.W.’s Evolve and Trimax plastic lumber products, and requires the company to tell its distributors to stop using marketing material it provided before December 2013. The order also bars N.E.W. from making unqualified recyclable claims about any product or package, unless the product or package can be recycled in an established recycling program, and such facilities are available to at least 60 percent of consumers or communities where the product or package is sold.
Federal protections are failing to keep potentially unsafe chemicals out of Americans’ foods, a Natural Resources Defense Council report said. The non-profit says the country’s food safety protection system is marred by minimal supervision by the Food and Drug Administration and rife with apparent conflicts of interest, and that provisions for chemicals “generally recognized as safe” form a gaping loophole.
In her first remarks since the EPA sent its carbon standards for existing power plants for White House review, administrator Gina McCarthy said the rules will be stringent but also flexible enough for all states to comply with. The rules are on-track to be released in June, Reuters reported.
Germany approved a 2.5 GW yearly cap on wind and solar expansion, a 6.5 GW limit on new offshore wind capacity to 2020, and roll-backs to green subsidies in an effort to prevent further energy price rises. The renewables market will also be subject to competitiveness starting in 2017, and the country will end guaranteed prices for wind and solar. Berlin also said it had reached an agreement with EU regulators, who had charged that German exemptions violated competition laws, the New York Times reports.
The EPA has reached an agreement with the Homeca Recycling Center Co. and Tallaboa Industrial Park to clean up asbestos that spread from demolition in the industrial park in Penuelas, Puerto Rico to the nearby Jorge Lucas Perez Valdevieso School and a children’s Head Start facility. The companies will remove asbestos fibers and materials from the schools. The EPA issued a separate order to the companies in February for violations of the Clean Air Act during asbestos removal.
The EPA has awarded $4.2 million in Diesel Emissions Reduction Act grants to six U.S. ports: the ports of Los Angeles and Hueneme in California; the ports of Seattle and Tacoma in Washington; the Maryland Port Administration and the Virginia Port Authority. The agency says it is also working with stakeholders to develop a port recognition initiative that will provide additional incentives to improve a variety of environmental issues including improving local air quality, reducing carbon emissions, and addressing environmental justice issues. In addition, the program will work with port authorities to develop emission measurement tools.
Poland approved a draft law which would set out long-term subsidies for renewable energy, allowing developers and owners of new renewable generation to sell their energy at auctions for a fixed price, guaranteed for 15 years. The law requires final approval by parliament and the president, Reuters reported.
Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said oil companies are dragging their feet and failing to keep a promise to voluntarily report additional information about the safety of crude oil on trains, The Hill reports.
Since Russian forces took hold of Crimea, UK prime minister David Cameron has joined with other conservative politicians and energy executives to call for more hydraulic fracturing in that country, the Washington Post reports.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a full committee hearing tomorrow called “Keeping the Lights On — Are we doing enough to ensure the reliability and security of the US electric grid?” The hearing will focus on the threat of cyber and physical attacks. Witnesses will include FERC chairman Cheryl LaFleur and representatives from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, PJM Interconnection, American Electric Power and American Public Power Association.
The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing today on “Trade Implications of US Energy Policy and the Export of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).” Witnesses are scheduled to include representatives from the National Association of Manufacturers, Port of Corpus Christi, Center for American Progress and Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The Interior and Environment subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee is holding a hearing today on the EPA’s fiscal year 2015 budget request. EPA administrator Gina McCarthy is scheduled to testify.
The Energy and Water Development subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee is holding a hearing today on the Department of Energy’s 2015 funding request and budget justification. Energy secretary Ernest Moniz and deputy secretary Daniel Poneman are scheduled to testify.
The House Natural Resources Committee will hold an oversight hearing tomorrow on “Tribal Forest Management: A Model for Promoting Healthy Forests and Rural Jobs.”
The House Natural Resources Committee is meeting today to consider H.R. 2008, which would extend appropriations authorization to carry out approved wetlands conservation projects under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, through fiscal year 2017.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is scheduled to meet today to consider H.R. 524, which would amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to clarify that the EPA administrator does not have the authority to disapprove a permit after it has been issued by the Secretary of the Army under section 404 of the act.
The Energy Department’s Better Buildings Alliance and the nonprofit Institute for Market Transformation have extended the submission deadline for the new Green Lease Leaders recognition program until April 22. The program is for firms and brokers successfully using green leasing to save energy in commercial buildings.
EPA is sending letters to about 200 home renovation and painting contractors, property management companies and landlords in and around New Haven, Conn, outlining steps EPA is taking to increase compliance on the part of these entities with the federal lead-based paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act. The agency will hold an information session April 16 and will inspect a number of the contractors in June.
California’s AB 32 Environmental Justice Advisory Committee will meet April 10 and 11 to discuss the Proposed First Update to the Climate Change Scoping Plan, including the development of a process to gauge the effects of AB 32 programs in environmental justice communities.
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