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Hurricane Preparedness - Be Ready - National Hurricane Center

Two keys to weather safety are to prepare for the risks and to act on those preparations when alerted by emergency officials. These are essential pieces to the Weather-Ready Nation.

Refer to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Ready.gov/hurricanes for comprehensive information on hurricane preparedness at home and in your community.

Please go to National Hurrican Center to all information


CPSC Vote Eliminates Third Party Testing Requirement for Children’s Toys and Child Care Articles with Certain Plastics - Consumer Product Safety Commission

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted unanimously 5 to 0 to remove seven plastics from the requirement to conduct independent third party testing for compliance with the mandatory phthalates prohibitions on children’s toys and child care articles. The decision reduces the burden of third party testing while assuring compliance with CPSC requirements. The rule goes into effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

The Commission determined that children’s toys and child care articles containing polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE), high-impact polystyrene (HIPS), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), general-purpose polystyrene (GPPS), medium-impact polystyrene (MIPS), and super-high-impact polystyrene (SHIPS) with specified additives would comply with CPSC’s requirements with a high degree of assurance. Based on this determination, the seven plastics with specified additives do not require third party testing for prohibited phthalates.

The manufacture, sale, distribution or importation into the United States of children’s toys and child care articles containing concentrations of more than 0.1 percent of six specified phthalates is still regulated under section 108 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).


USDA Eases WIC Food Package Rules for Texas Participants Affected by Harvey - U.S. Department of Agriculture

WASHINGTON, Sept. 4, 2017 -- Families participating in USDA’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) in hurricane-stricken Texas will have an easier time finding WIC-approved foods for mothers and their children thanks to food-package flexibilities approved Sunday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said that USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) approved the request from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission because the full range of eggs, bread and fluid milk products are in short supply in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

“USDA is committed to ensuring that people touched by this disaster get the vital nutrition they need – in particular the women and children participating in the WIC program,” Perdue said. “Helping victims of Hurricane Harvey is a top priority for President Trump, and we will continue working to expedite access to programs which provide food for the vulnerable. We’re with you, Texas.”

Pregnant, post-partum and nursing women and children participating in WIC are given a personal food “prescription” designed to meet their specific nutritional needs. Under normal circumstances, they can use their food benefits at authorized retailers to purchase only specific WIC food items. The flexibilities approved this past weekend and lasting through September 24, will expand the variety of certain WIC products allowed to be purchased based on what is available on store shelves.

Here are the details:

  • Eggs. Participants will be allowed to purchase a variety of types of eggs in various pack sizes.
     
  • Bread. Participants will be allowed to purchase a variety of bread products in various sizes that are readily available at the retailer. Retailers will be assisting participants in making their selections.
     
  • Fluid Milk. Participants over the age of one year will be allowed to substitute milk of any available fat content and type despite the designation of their food package. Flavored milk will not be considered.

FNS continues to provide critical support for people affected by Hurricane Harvey and has approved the flexibilities to ensure that WIC participants continue to receive nutritional support throughout the disaster. WIC provides supplemental nutritious foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding promotion and support, and referrals to health and other social services for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

If you lost WIC food or formula, lost a WIC card, or need to find an open WIC clinic, call Texas WIC at 1-(800) 942-3678 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The WIC flexibilities approved Sunday are the latest in an ongoing series of USDA actions taken to help Texans cope with the storm and its aftermath that also include a waiver to allow all disaster-affected schools to provide meals to all students at no charge and be reimbursed at the free reimbursement rate through September 30.

In addition, local disaster organizations, such as the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and Southern Baptist Men continue to utilize USDA Foods to serve hot meals in congregate shelters. Individuals seeking more information about this and other available aid should dial 2-1-1 (for callers from Texas) or 1-(877) 541-7905. For more information about Texas SNAP, visit YourTexasBenefits.com.

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which together comprise America's nutrition safety net. For more information on FNS assistance during times of disaster, visit www.fns.usda.gov/disaster.


Initiation of AD/CVD Investigations: Certain Uncoated Groundwood Paper from Canada - U.S. Customs & Border Protection

On August 29, 2017, the Department of Commerce (Commerce) initiated its less-than-fair-value and countervailing duty investigations on “Certain Uncoated Groundwood Paper from Canada” (Initiation Notices). These investigations have been assigned the following case numbers: A-122-861 and C-122-862.

The Scope of Merchandise covered by these investigations reads as follows:

The merchandise covered by these investigations includes certain paper that has not been coated on either side and with 50 percent or more of the cellulose fiber content consisting of groundwood pulp, including groundwood pulp made from recycled paper, weighing not more than 90 grams per square meter. Groundwood pulp includes all forms of pulp produced from a mechanical pulping process, such as thermo-mechanical process (TMP), chemi-thermo mechanical process (CTMP), bleached chemi-thermo mechanical process (BCTMP) or any other mechanical pulping process. The scope includes paper shipped in any form, including but not limited to both rolls and sheets.

Certain uncoated groundwood paper includes but is not limited to standard newsprint, high bright newsprint, book publishing, directory, and printing and writing papers. The scope includes paper that is white, off-white, cream, or colored.

Specifically excluded from the scope are imports of certain uncoated groundwood paper printed with final content of printed text or graphic. Also excluded are papers that otherwise meet this definition, but which have undergone a supercalendering process.

Certain uncoated groundwood paper is classifiable in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) in several subheadings, including 4801.00.0120, 4801.00.0140, 4802.61.1000, 4802.61.2000, 4802.61.3110, 4802.61.3191, 4802.61.6040, 4802.62.1000, 4802.62.2000, 4802.62.3000, 4802.62.6140, 4802.69.1000, 4802.69.2000, and 4802.69.3000.

Subject merchandise may also be imported under several additional subheadings including 4805.91.5000, 4805.91.7000, and 4805.91.9000. Although the HTSUS subheadings are provided for convenience and customs purposes, the written description of the merchandise is dispositive.

Requirements for Submitting Comments on the Scope of the Investigations:  Please be sure to comply with all three requirements established below.

Deadline for Submitting Comments:
As announced in the Initiation Notices, Commerce is setting aside a period for interested parties to raise issues regarding product coverage (scope). The period for scope comments is intended to provide Commerce with ample opportunity to consider all comments and to consult with parties prior to the issuance of the preliminary determination, as appropriate. If scope comments include factual information (see 19 CFR 351.102(b)(21)), all such factual information should be limited to public information. Commerce requests that all such comments be filed by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on Monday, September 18, 2017, which is 20 calendar days from the signature date of this notice. Any rebuttal comments, which may include factual information, must be filed by 5:00 p.m. (EDT) on Thursday, September 28, 2017, which is 10 calendar days after the initial comments deadline. Commerce requests that any factual information the parties consider relevant to the scope of the investigations be submitted during this time period. However, if a party subsequently finds that additional factual information pertaining to the scope of the investigations may be relevant, the party may contact Commerce and request permission to submit the additional information. All such comments must be filed on the records of both the AD and CVD investigations.


Trilateral Statement on the Conclusion of the Second Round of NAFTA Negotations - Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

Washington, DC – On September 5, 2017, United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Mexican Secretary of the Economy Ildefonso Guajardo concluded the second round of the renegotiation and modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in Mexico City, Mexico. This concluded five days of meetings by a team of subject matter experts covering various negotiation topics.

Building on the progress made in the First Round of the renegotiation and modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and Mexican Secretary of the Economy Ildefonso Guajardo, today successfully concluded the Second Round of negotiations, which took place in Mexico City from September 1 – 5.

Over the past five days, more than two dozen working groups comprised of trade experts and technical officials worked diligently to advance the discussions and exchanged information and proposals. In several groups, this engagement resulted in the consolidation of proposals into a single text upon which the teams will continue to work during subsequent negotiation rounds.

Important progress was achieved in many disciplines and the Parties expect more in the coming weeks. The three countries will continue their respective processes of internal consultation in preparation for the Third Round of negotiations, which will take place in Ottawa, Canada, from September 23 – 27.

The Ministers from Mexico, the United States and Canada reaffirm their commitment to an accelerated and comprehensive negotiation, with the shared goal of concluding the process towards the end of this year.

The successful conclusion of these negotiations will update NAFTA through new rules that will generate important economic opportunities for all three countries, fostering further growth in the region for the benefit of the three NAFTA partners.


Home Depot Agrees to Pay $5.7 Million Civil Penalty, Maintain Compliance Program for Selling and Distributing Recalled Products
 - Consumer Product Safety Commission

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced that Home Depot U.S.A. Inc., of Atlanta, Georgia, has agreed to pay a $5.7 million civil penalty for selling and distributing previously recalled consumer products. The agreement settles charges that the firm knowingly sold and distributed approximately 2,816 recalled products from 33 separate voluntary corrective actions during a four-year period from August 2012 through November 2016.

Federal law prohibits the sale, offer for sale, or distribution in commerce of a consumer product that is subject to voluntary corrective action, such as a recall, that has been publicly announced and taken in consultation with CPSC.

CPSC staff charged that Home Depot’s procedures failed to accurately identify, quarantine, and prevent the sale and distribution of the recalled products. Home Depot sold and distributed the recalled products in its stores through traditional register lanes and special services desks, and through sales for salvage from its reverse logistic centers, internet sales, and donation program.

The hazards posed by the recalled products include, but are not limited to, fire hazards, laceration hazards, and electrocution and shock hazards.

The recalled products sold and distributed by Home Depot are:

  • HeathCo Motion Activated Outdoor Lights, recalled on July 26, 2012;
  • Legrand Under Cabinet Power and Light Strips, recalled on September 6, 2012, and expanded on May 15, 2014;
  • LG Electronics Electric Ranges, recalled on November 8, 2012;
  • Pramac America LLC Powermate Portable Generators, recalled on November 13, 2012;
  • Wing Enterprises Stepladders, recalled on December 11, 2012;
  • LG Electronics, Inc., Top Loading Washers, recalled on December 18, 2012;
  • CE Tech Riser Cables, recalled on April 9, 2013;
  • Nourison Rugs, recalled on May 23, 2013;
  • Soleil Portable Heaters, recalled on July 25, 2013;
  • Gree Dehumidifiers, recalled on September 12, 2013, expanded in January 2014, and reannounced in May 2014;
  • HeathCo Motion-Activated Outdoor Lights, recalled on October 30, 2013;
  • RSI Bathroom Medicine Cabinets, recalled on January 16, 2014;
  • HDX/Powermate Two-Gallon Air Compressors, recalled on February 12, 2014;
  • Genie Garage Door Openers, recalled on February 25, 2014;
  • Dyson Bladeless Portable Heaters, recalled on April 1, 2014;
  • Nest Labs Smoke/CO Alarms, recalled on May 21, 2014;
  • Cordelia Shop Lights, recalled on May 22, 2014;
  • Lithonia Quantum® ELM and ELM2 Two-Light Emergency Light Fixtures, recalled on May 28, 2014;
  • Harris Products Group Welding Torches, recalled on July 31, 2014;
  • Vornado Air Electric Space Heaters, recalled on August 14, 2014;
  • Kidde Smoke/Co Alarms, recalled on September 11, 2014;
  • Fiskars Bypass Loppers, recalled on October 8, 2014;
  • Mohawk Home Rugs, recalled on November 19, 2014;
  • Kidde Fire Extinguishers, recalled on February 12, 2015;
  • Westinghouse Lighting Glass Shade Holders, recalled on March 12, 2015;
  • Husky Vertical Bike Hooks, recalled on April 15, 2015;
  • Homelite Blower Vacuums, recalled on April 16, 2015;
  • Gerber Cohort Folding Knives, recalled on May 26, 2015;
  • Technical Consumer Products LED Down Light Fixtures, recalled on September 8, 2015;
  • Philips Lighting Halogen Flood Lights, recalled on September 10, 2015;
  • Lota Touchless Single-Handle, Pull-Down Sprayer Faucets, recalled on September 10, 2015;
  • Bosch Slim Grinders, recalled on May 11, 2016; and
  • Honda Mini Tillers, recalled on May 25, 2016.

On November 18, 2015, CPSC and Home Depot jointly re-announced the recalls of products that Home Depot sold and distributed after the original recalls had been announced.

In addition to paying the $5.7 million civil penalty, Home Depot will maintain a compliance program to ensure compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA), including a program for the appropriate disposal of recalled products. Home Depot will also maintain a system of internal controls and procedures.

Home Depot’s settlement of this matter does not constitute an admission by Home Depot, or a determination by the Commission, that Home Depot knowingly violated the CPSA.

The Commission voted 4 to 1 to accept the settlement provisionally. Acting Chairman Ann Marie Buerkle voted to accept a lower penalty.

 
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