New regs for Friday: Water heaters, immigration, medical fraud

Friday's edition of the Federal Register contains new rules for residential and commercial water heaters, deportation proceedings, medical fraud, the transportation of radioactive material and humpback whales.

Here's what is happening:

Efficiency: The Energy Department is moving forward with new rules for water heaters, the agency said Thursday.

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The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy announced new testing requirements for residential and certain commercial water heaters to make sure they comply with efficiency standards.

The new test method goes into effect on July 13, 2015.

Immigration: The Justice Department is moving forward with a rule that will allow it to appoint temporary immigration judges to handle the influx of deportation cases, the agency said Thursday.

The Justice Department already employs about 250 immigration judges, but the backlog of cases is growing. There were more than 350,000 cases pending around the country at the end of last year, which adds up to an average of 1,400 cases per judge.

To keep up with the growing number of deportation cases, the Justice Department said it plans to appoint temporary immigration judges who will help decide these cases.

The rule goes into effect immediately.

Fraud: A healthcare watchdog released a report Thursday warning about a growing trend of medical fraud that threatens to harm patients.

The inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services issued a special fraud alert cautioning against doctors who receive "kickbacks" from laboratories for referring patients there, which is illegal.

Whales: The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is delaying a rule that would designate certain humpback whales as a distinct population segment under the Endangered Species Act.

The NMFS announced Thursday it is extending the comment period through Aug. 27 to give interested parties more time to discuss the proposed changes.

Hazardous materials: The Department of Transportation is revising the rules for transporting radioactive material, the agency announced Thursday.

The Transportation Department's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said this would align the agency's rules with international standards.

The new rules go into effect on Oct. 1.