Revisions to the Green Guides: Part I - Renewable Energy Claims

Revisions to the Green Guides: Part I - Renewable Energy Claims

October 20, 2010 20:58
by J. Wylie Donald

The Federal Trade Commission proposed revisions to its "Green Guides" at the beginning of this month. Proposed Revisions to the Green Guides (Oct. 6, 2010) Click here. The comment period runs through December 10, 2010. Most interesting for readers of this blog are the two new proposed guides directed to renewable energy and carbon offsets, which we discuss below.

For those unfamiliar with the Green Guides, they are the guidance provided by the FTC for marketers to assist them in avoiding making misleading environmental claims. First published in 1992, and updated in 1996 and 1998, the Guides provide "1) general principles that apply to all environmental marketing claims; 2) how consumers are likely to interpret particular claims and how marketers can substantiate these claims; and 3) how marketers can qualify their claims to avoid deceiving consumers." FTC Press Release (Oct. 6, 2010) Click here.

Although the Green Guides are not law, the FTC uses them to determine when to bring enforcement actions. As stated in the regulations: "These guides specifically address the application of Section 5 of the FTC Act to environmental advertising and marketing practices. They provide the basis for voluntary compliance with such laws by members of industry. Conduct inconsistent with the positions articulated in these guides may result in corrective action by the Commission under Section 5 if, after investigation, the Commission has reason to believe that the behavior falls within the scope of conduct declared unlawful by the statute." 16 C.F.R. § 260.1 test ttt

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The business case for the development of renewable energy projects, from biodiesel and ethanol to wind, solar, and distributed generation, is more compelling than ever as tax and regulatory incentives combine to attract investments. Emerging issues in environmental law and increasingly recognized principles of corporate social responsibility are encouraging public companies to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions, install clean energy alternatives, and invest overseas in projects under the Kyoto Protocol to respond to climate change concerns.

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