First Takes: Energy Star to List 'Most Efficient' Goods, US Gets Lead Out of Toys & More ...

First Takes: Energy Star to List 'Most Efficient' Goods, US Gets Lead Out of Toys & More ...

Image CC licensed by Flickr user MSVG

Who's the Most Efficient of Them All? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy launched a pilot program Thursday that spotlight the "Most Efficient" items among Energy Star-rated products. Eligible products will comprise the top 5 percent most efficient Energy Star clothes washers, heating and cooling equipment, televisions and refrigerators-freezers. Additional product categories could be added next year. In the meantime, the first batch of Most Efficient products are being made by Electrolux Major Appliances, Sears’ Kenmore, LG, Samsung, Best Buy’s Insignia Brand, Panasonic, Nordyne and Rheem.

Bayer Works to Decouple Impacts from Business Growth: Bayer saw its production levels increase by 20 percent in 2010 as the global economy recovered. The company's environmental impacts also grew, but at lower levels, the company said today in its 2010 Sustainable Development report. During the same period, Bayer's energy use swelled nearly 11 percent, greenhouse gas emissions increased 5 percent, water consumption rose 16.5 percent and waste generation fell 12 percent

The Dirty Water Act: The U.S. House of Representatives passed Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011 on Thursday, which would essentially transfer oversight over water standards from the EPA to the states. President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the bill should it pass the Senate. "Absent federal oversight, states are likely to engage in a race to the bottom, weakening environmental rules to attract business," the New York Times' editorial board wrote Thursday. "This assault on the Clean Water Act reminded us, briefly, of 1995, when a Republican-controlled House under Newt Gingrich tried to undermine the same law. That effort enraged independent voters and energized moderate Republicans."

The Water Act rule comes the same week as the GOP-controlled House of Representatives failed to pass a bill repealing energy-efficient lighting rules, the latest in a string of efforts in Washington to limit environmental regulations. In addition to launching a new attempt to repeal green lighting standards, Republicans in the House (with help from some Democrats) this week also passed a bill to limit how the EPA can regulate toxic coal ash.

State Street Lays Out 2013 Environmental Goals: Financial Services Firm State Street Corp. retooled its environmental management system in order to perform its first-ever global environmental risk and performance evaluation, while also setting new worldwide three-year goals and completing a water risk mapping of all offices, the company said in its latest Corporate Responsibility report. Among the highlights: global greenhouse gas emissions fell 12 percent in 2010; renewable energy purchases grew 73 percent; waste generation fell 24 percent. New 2013 goals target a 10 percent reduction in GHGs, 3 percent decline in water use, 5 percent drop in waste disposal and a 5 percent improvement in its recycling diversion rate.

U.S. to Take the Lead Out of Toys: The Consumer Product Safety Commission voted this week to lower the lead content in toys to some of the lowest levels in the world, Forbes reported. That means that toys aimed at kids under the age of 12 will drop from 99.97 percent lead free to 99.99 percent lead free. The new rules takes effect Aug. 14, and may have a negligible effect on larger manufacturers and retailers, such as Hasbro and Walmart, which have already moved toward the lower limits. Small manufacturers, however, may have a harder time weathering the costs of more expensive materials or higher testing costs.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user MSVG.