Efforts are underway to erode the Lacey Act which protects Americans from wood that is illegally harvested. In March, two Republicans, Paul Broun, R-Ga., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., introduced legislation to repeal the requirement that US companies comply with foreign environmental laws. Their bill would lower the penalties for violations under the Lacey Act. A bill introduced last fall by Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper of Nashville and Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood would eliminate penalties for people who procure illegal woods.
The Broun/Paul bill will allow illegally traded wood — which is cheap and often taken from over-forested or protected land — to make its way into the US market.
The Blackburn/Cooper legislation could allow businesses to avoid penalties by claiming they didn’t know they were violating a foreign law. Wood certification makes it very easy for companies to ensure that imported wood is legal and sustainable.
Changing the Lacey Act does not make sense because reducing penalties for companies that illegally import foreign wood ultimately hurts the domestic wood industry which in turn hurts the economy.
Many large organizations support approaches like those contained in the Lacey Act. Companies like Staples and the American Forest and Paper Association support policies that reduce the threat that illegal wood products pose to the US market.
If the industry supports the Lacey act then why can’t lawmakers?
© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
The Economic and Employment Benefits of Forests
What The Business Community Can Do To Protect Forests
The Costs of Illegal Logging
The Lacey Act Combats Illegal Logging
Scientists Defend the Lacey Act
Video: Reducing Emissions Through Forest Preservation with REDD