Wal-Mart: We're Green, Just Don't Ask How Green

"Wal-Mart has been taking many major steps [to] go green in recent years," writes Eoin O'Carroll. "So you can imagine my surprise when I came across Wal-Mart's comment on the Federal Trade Commission's attempts to standardize carbon offsets." As the Center for Media and Democracy reported previously, the FTC is revising its environmental advertising guidelines, prompted by the booming trade in carbon offsets, environmental "credits" that can be purchased to balance the impact of activities (like plane flights) that emit greenhouse gases. The FTC plans to issue guidelines for carbon offsets and renewable electricity credits (RECs). Wal-Mart suggested (PDF) to the FTC, "rather than attempting to define offsets or RECs, the Commission should rely on the flexibility inherent in the 'reasonable basis doctrine.' ... Different authoritative and expert institutions have adopted different, but reasonable approaches." O'Carroll summarizes, "Wal-Mart is arguing that we should not seek to come up with a firm definition ... because there doesn't yet exist a firm definition." In response, Wal-Mart told O'Carroll that standards for RECs and offsets should be determined by "governmental entities and highly technical experts with vast environmental expertise," not the FTC.