FTC To Issue Revised Guidelines for “Green” Product Claims

image: Wikimedia Commons

Many products these days make claims on their labels that place them somewhere on the nebulous spectrum of “green”. These endorsements range from “all natural”, to  “environmentally friendly”, “biodegradable”, or “eco”  just to name a few.

But what do these labels really mean? “Environmentally friendly” compared to what? “Biodegradable” how, and under what conditions?

The fact is, many manufacturers in recent years have taken note of strong consumer appetite for safer products and have responded– but not always with meaningful changes. Products and services that gratuitously toss around vague environmental claims have come to be known as “greenwashing“.

For example, many product labels feature environmental seals – little pictoral “stamps” with a tagline; while there are some legitimate third party verification seals that attest to a products’ safety, environmental performance and/or the manufacturing process, some may be nothing more than ornament. Other examples of deceptive advertising practices may include misleading claims, or overstatement of environmental benefits of a product during its manufacture, use or disposal.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) first  adopted its “Green Guide” in 1998 to help provide a baseline of clarity for both consumers and the manufacturers making environmental claims about their products; the revisions that are in the works now will be the first since 1998.

The new revisions will be based on research done by the FTC to gauge consumer understanding of various “green” labeling terms and practices. However, the FTC stops short of providing legal definitions to terms and the guidelines will still be voluntary and self-implemented by manufacturers.

Listen to the KQED Forum “An End to Greenwashing” that provides a discussion of the new FTC guidelines, here

Visit the Good Guide, a group that helps you find “healthy, green, ethical products according to scientific ratings”

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Fast-Track Geothermal Project in Nevada

photo credit: freefoto.com

The Las Vegas Sun reports that the federal Bureau of Land Management just approved a fast-track geothermal project in Pershing County, Nevada. The company that proposed the project, Ormat Technologies, plans to build a 30 megawatt plant that covers about 13 square miles.

From the BLM announcement – “The BLM Fast-Track projects are those where the companies involved have demonstrated to the BLM that they have made sufficient progress to formally start the environmental review and public participation process. These projects could potentially be cleared by December 2010, thus making them eligible for economic stimulus funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. There are 34 national fast-track projects – 14 solar, 7 wind, 6 geothermal, and 7 transmission lines.”

A list of fast-track renewable energy projects can be found here on the BLM website.

Nevada currently has 11 geothermal plants, 3 of which are on Bureau of Land Management-managed public land.

Anna’s Links – Water and Solar Energy

I recently wrote a post as an overview of the energy-water nexus. Here are a couple articles that highlight the link between solar projects and water.

Armagosa Valley, Nevada (freefoto.com)

Last year, the New York Times ran an article about how a promising solar project in Armagosa Valley,  Nevada, by Solar Millenium ran hard up against western worries about water. The two proposed solar farms would require 1.3 billion gallons of water a year, or 20 percent of the local water available.

The Las Vegas Sun reports on the Skyline Solar facility in Nipton, California, that will use concentrating solar photovoltaic (CPV). CPV plants are expected to use much less water than solar thermal plants, which means they may be better candidates for places with lots of sun, but not as much water.

The energy-water nexus generally refers to needing water to produce energy and needing energy to move and filter water; however, it seemed fitting to include a story about using the sun and water to reduce energy use:

 NPR reports that the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base in North Carolina is becoming one of the largest communities to widely install solar hot water panels. FLS Energy owns and installs the panels and then sells the hot water to the base, which means that there are basically only two main actors and decision-makers needed to install  systems on all 900 homes.  (The base is also planning a LEED Platinum fitness center – more info on the base website.)