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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.

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