New regs for Friday: Air conditioners, food coloring, crop insurance

Friday's edition of the Federal Register contains new rules for air conditioners, borrowers who default on loans, crop insurance for pears, and food coloring.

Here's what is happening:

Air conditioners: The Department of Energy is moving forward with new efficiency standards for certain types of residential central air conditioners.

The Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy announced Thursday that it is making changes to the efficiency standards for "through-the-wall central air conditioners" and "through-the-wall central air conditioning heat pumps."

The Energy Department proposed the changes last December and is now moving forward with the new rules.

The rules go into effect in one month.

Education: The Department of Education is considering new rules for borrowers who default on the terms of their loans. 

The Education Department's newly established negotiated rule-making committee announced Thursday a series of meetings next month where the agency will consider how to define "adverse credit" for people who borrow money from the Federal Direct PLUS Loan Program.

Adverse credit is a term that is generally used for people who default on their loans. 

The committee meetings are scheduled for May 19–20.

Crop insurance: The U.S. Department of Agriculture is looking to expand insurance coverage for pear producers, while at the same time reducing the program's vulnerability to fraud.

The USDA's Federal Crop Insurance Corporation announced the proposed changes Thursday, which would go into effect during the 2015 crop year.

"Currently, pears that are knocked down to the ground by wind, or that are frozen and cannot be packed or marketed as fresh pears are considered culls," the agency wrote in the Federal Register. "The proposed quality endorsement will include all insured causes of loss, therefore, damage caused by wind or freeze will be covered."

Food coloring: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is making changes to its food color regulations

The new rules adopt spirulina extract as a safe form of food coloring. The company that makes the color additive, GNT USA Inc., had requested this exemption. 

Spirulina is a blue-colored powder or liquid.

Last August, the FDA approved a similar color additive for candy and chewing gum.

The rule goes into effect May 13.

Electronic filing: The Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission (FMSHRC) is extending the comment period on a rule that would allow companies to file documents with the commission electronically. 

The FMSHRC issued an interim rule in December, but is extending the comment period through July 31 to give companies more time to discuss their experiences with the commission.

Name change: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is changing the name of one of its committees and expanding the group's responsibilities.

Formerly known as the Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs, the FDA is changing the panel's name to the Bone, Reproductive and Urologic Drugs Advisory Committee to more accurately reflect its new responsibilities. 

The committee is responsible for reviewing the safety and effectiveness of drugs used in practices such as osteoporosis and metabolic bone disease, obstetrics, gynecology and urology.