The Federal Trade Commission is looking into the booming business of selling carbon offsets, which are billed as a way "to balance the emissions created by, say, using a laptop computer or flying on a jet." Deborah Platt Majoras, chairwoman of the FTC feels that with the tremendous growth in the field, there is potential for abuse of the public's trust. The last revision of the FTC's environmental advertising guidelines was in 1997, and did not include terms common today, like sustainability, carbon offsets or renewable energy. "As more companies use offset programs to create an environmental halo over their products, the commission said it was growing increasingly concerned that some green marketing assertions were not substantiated. Environmentalists have a word for such misleading advertising: 'greenwashing.'" Corporations that are offering carbon offset credits to consumers include Dell, Continental Airlines, General Electric, Bank of America, and Volkswagen. "The FTC has not accused anyone of wrongdoing -- neither the providers of carbon offsets nor the consumer brands that sell them. But environmentalists say -- and the FTC's hearings suggest -- that it is only a matter of time until the market faces greater scrutiny from the government or environmental organizations."
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