A group of environmental, industry and labor representatives spoke about what they feel is an overreaction to the raids on Gibson Guitar and the continued need for the Lacey Act to help regulate demand for illegal harvested imported wood. This group believed that reaction to the Gibson Guitar case has gone too far, and identified the Tea Party as part of the cause of part of that reaction. The conference was moderated by Glenn Hurowitz of Climate Advisers.
In August federal marshals raided the Gibson Guitar Corp. in Nashville for trafficking in illegally obtained wood. Gibson Guitar has stated that it is being targeted unfairly for enforcement.
The Lacey Act is 100 years old, and harvested wood was included in 2008, according to an overview in the teleconference by Jameson French of Northland Forest Products.
Andrea Johnson of the Environmental Investigation Agency pointed out the large illegal forestry in Indonesia and Madagascar, where there are hundreds of illiegal logging operations, and the wood trade between Russia to China, "is the largest flow of illegal woods in the world."
She also commented on the Gibson Guitar raid, "Environmental crime is a crime," she pointed out. Other speakers were critical of Gibson and its use of the same importer involved in an earlier complaint.
The Lacey Act helps the U.S. industry stay strong, according to Mark Barford of the National Hardwood Lumber Assn. He said his group is in favor of the Lacey Act being applied firmly and fairly, and that U.S. companies can't compete with wood that is harvested illegally.
Charlie Redden of Taylor Guitars said his company supports that act, and the only way to control illegal logging is to control the demand side.
Roy Houseman, representing the United Steelworkers, was concerned that U.S. pulp and paper workers cannot compete with illegally harvested lumber imports.
Hurwitz suggested that Southeast Asian logging companies are providing financial support of Tea Party chapters that seek repeal of the Lacey Act.
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