Lacey Act changes debated18 May 2012
Moves to alter the US Lacey Act, which was amended in 2008 to regulate timber and wood product imports, have been debated in the House of Representatives’ natural resources committee.
Two bills – Jim Cooper and Marsha Blackburn’s Relief Act and Rand Paul and Paul Broun’s Focus bill – suggest amendments following two raids by federal agents on Gibson Guitar’s facilities since 2009. The raids were part of an investigation into the use of illegally logged hardwoods.
Jim Cooper said his bill would remove penalties for people who unknowingly possess illegal woods, while also reducing fines for first offences and exempting wood that was imported before 2008.
The bill is aimed at giving some protection to music store retailers and lumber importers.
IKEA representative Laurie Everill, who testified before the hearing, said US retailers supported the Lacey Act’s efforts to combat illegal logging but there was a “growing recognition” that compliance was very difficult.
As it stands, the law requires importers to provide numerous details, including species and country of harvest for products that include wood materials.
“Simple changes to the law would help retailers comply and achieve the policy goals shared by the Retail Industry Leaders Association, our members and the law’s most strident advocates,” he said.
However, he said neither bills passing through the house adequately addressed the challenges, with any changes needing to be supported by the environmental community.
The bills continue to be debated.