New regs for Friday: Refrigerators, baby carriers, emergency broadcasts

Friday's edition of the Federal Register contains new rules for commercial refrigerators, baby carriers, and access to emergency broadcasts for Spanish speakers.

Here's what is happening:

Refrigerators: The Energy Department is moving forward with new energy efficiency standards for commercial refrigerators used in supermarkets, convenience stores and restaurants to store food.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, a division of the Energy Department, plans to publish the new standards in Friday's edition of the Federal Register.

When the new standards take effect in three years, they would make the average commercial refrigerator about 30 percent more efficient and would cut carbon pollution by about 142 million metric tons over the next three decades, the agency noted.

That's enough energy savings to power 14.3 million homes for one year.

Currently, commercial refrigerators account for nearly 40 percent of energy use and many businesses that sell food, and can used as much as 17,000 kilowatt-hours of power each year.

The new rules could cost manufacturers as much as $184 million to comply, but would reap huge savings, the Energy Department said.

It could save businesses as much as $11.7 billion on their energy bills.

The agency originally announced the new efficiency standards for commercial refrigerators last month.

The Energy Department has finalized new efficiency standards for more than 30 appliances, such as dishwashers, walk-in coolers, and water heaters, under the Obama administration.

Baby carriers: The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is moving forward with new safety standards for soft infant and toddler carriers to reduce the risk of babies being injured or killed by these devices.

In some cases, these infant and toddler carriers have malfunctioned and caused injuries and even killed some of the babies, the CPSC reported. 

In fact, from September 2012 through July 2013, 31 incidents were reported to the CPSC, including two deaths from suffocation. In 24 of the cases, the children were injured but not killed.

The new standards go into effect on Sept. 29, and will apply to all baby carriers that are manufactured in or imported to the United States. These rules would go above and beyond existing voluntary standards from manufacturers.

"Durable infant and toddler standards must be 'substantially the same as' applicable voluntary standards or more stringent than the voluntary standard if the commission concludes that more stringent requirements would further reduce the risk of injury associated with the product," the agency wrote.

911: The Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) wants to make it easier to emergency responders to identify the location inside a home or building from which people call on their cellphones.

The FCC plans to issue a third notice of proposed rulemaking on Friday that would improve the ability of 911 operators to track the location of cellphones.

While emergency responders can often track the location of landlines phones, more and more people are calling from cellphones, which the FCC indicated can be more difficult to track from indoors.

Emergency broadcasts: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering a rule that would give non-English speakers access to broadcasts with emergency announcements in their own language.

The FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau has been considering the rule since 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck the southern Atlantic coast. A group of group of broadcasters and media organizations have petitioned the agency to make sure emergency announcements are available to Spanish speakers.

Truck drivers: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is considering new standards for truck drivers who file their hours-of-service records electronically.

The new rules would establish performance standards for acceptable electronic logging devices, and requirements that drivers use these devices, among other things.

"The proposed requirements for (electronic logging devices) would improve compliance with the (hours-of-service) rules," the agency wrote.

Highway safety: The Federal Highway Administration is considering changes to the Highway Safety Improvement Program that are required under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act.

The public has two months to comment on the proposed rule, which mostly governs state reporting requirements.

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