New regs for Monday: Energy efficiency, crane operators, bears

Monday's edition of the Federal Register contains new energy efficiency rules for lamps and external power supplies, as well as a rule for crane operators.

Here's what is happening:

Lamps: The Department of Energy (DOE) plans to adopt tougher energy conservation standards for metal halide lamp fixtures that are often used outdoors at camp sites and sports stadiums. 

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at DOE, which is undertaking the new rule, estimates it could cost manufacturers $21.5 million. The agency said the new rules are "economically justified," because they would result in significant energy savings. 

The new rule will update previous standards from the Energy Policy and Conservation Act that was published in 1975.

The final rule will go into effect in two months. Companies will be required to comply with the new rules by Feb. 10, 2017.

External power supplies: The Department of Energy (DOE) plans to adopt new energy conservation standards for external power supplies.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at DOE, which is undertaking the new rule, estimates it could cost manufacturers $51 million, but said it does not anticipate any plant closings or significant loss of employment due to the rule.

Consumers would save as much as $3.8 billion on energy from the new rule, the agency estimates.

The standards would affect a wide variety of consumer applications, the agency noted.

The new rules would establish energy conservation standards for the minimum average efficient of a device while it is in operation, and the maximum power consumption level when it is plugged in but not supplying power. These rules would amend existing energy conservations standards for some external power supplies and would also apply to other external power supplies that have never been regulated. 

The rule would apply to all external power supplies that are manufactured in or imported to the United States by Feb. 10, 2016.

Crane operators: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is considering delaying a rule that would require crane operators to be certified.

The deadline for employers to ensure that crane operators are certified would be extended to Nov. 10, 2017, under the new proposal. The rule, issued in 2010, was supposed to take effect later this year.

In the meantime, employers are responsible for making sure crane operators are trained and competent, even if they are not official certified.

OSHA is a branch of the Department of Labor.

Bears: Zoos could face new rules, as the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture considers setting a new standard for the treatment of bears in captivity. As part of the Animal Welfare Act, the rules would include standards for the humane handling, care, treatment, and transportation of most bears in captivity.

Polar bears would not included in the rule, because there are already regulations for the treatment of those animals. 

APHIS is considering these rules at the request of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which filed a petition last year to establish new rules for the treatment of bears. By law, APHIS is considering the petition. 

The original notice was published last November, but the agency plans to reopen the public comment period on these potential new rules, which closed Jan. 27.

APHIS is calling for the public to submit scientific data, studies, and research on the costs and benefits of such a rule that would help it make a decision.