New regs for Tuesday: Whistleblowers, gas pipelines, swine flu

Tuesday's edition of the Federal Register contains new rules for whistleblowers at government contractors, energy efficiency, natural gas pipelines, and the importation of Mexican pork and Korean oranges.

Here's what is happening:

Whistleblowers: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is moving forward with new whistleblower protections for employees of NASA contractors and subcontractors, the agency said Monday.

The new rules would protect employees who warn about problems with a government contract from being fired or demoted, NASA said.

The rules go into effect immediately.

Efficiency: The Department of Energy is withdrawing portions of energy conservation rules.

The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy announced Monday it is vacating parts of two rules that were overturned in federal court. The first rule governed non-weatherized gas furnaces, such as mobile home furnaces, which were part of a larger standard for residential furnaces.

The second rule governed vented hearth heaters.

The changes go into effect immediately.

Pipelines: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is looking to relax the requirements for natural gas pipeline companies, the agency said Monday.

Natural gas pipeline companies would no longer be required to send FERC updated maps after they have made major changes to the pipeline system. Instead, these companies would post the updates on their own websites.

The public has 60 days to comment.

Swine flu: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is looking to relax the import restrictions on Mexican pork that comes from areas of the country where some pigs might have wine flu.

The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said Monday it is considering new rules that would provide a pathway from Mexican pork to enter the U.S., as long as farmers followed a stringent set of rules intended to prevent healthy pigs from interacting with those that may have swine fever.

The public has 60 days to comment.

Oranges: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is also looking to relax the import restrictions on Korean oranges, the agency said Monday.

The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is considering new rules that would allow two types of Unshu oranges from Korea to be imported into the U.S., reversing an existing prohibition on the citrus fruit.

The public has 60 days to comment.