Lacey Act CounterpointEditor’s Note: Last issue we published a Guest Opinion, “The Fight to Fix the Lacey Act Has Just Begun,” penned by Brent McClendon, executive director of the International Wood Products Assn. McClendon opined that he agrees with the Lacey Act’s goal to combat illegal logging. But he hastened to add, “(B)y making the scope of laws and products covered by Lacey so vast, they (Congress) are creating unknowing and unintended ‘criminals’ out of honest, law-abiding business owners and consumers, and paradoxically weakening global efforts to combat illegal logging.”

Now we present the “Counterpoint” to McClendon’s view, a Guest Opinion authored by Dana Cole, executive director of the Hardwood Federation.

Both of these Guest Opinions were originally posted on WoodworkingNetwork.com at Guest Blogs. Since they were posted, an indirectly related trade matter has emerged. The U.S. International Trade Commission voted 6-0 last month to have the U.S. Commerce Department continue its antidumping investigation of hardwood plywood imported from China.

I discuss this relationship in my Nov. 30 blog: “The Lacey Act, Plywood Antidumping and the Sen. Wyden Connection.”

Why U.S. Woodworkers Should Support the Act

Lacey Act CounterpointThe Hardwood Federation, the industry’s united voice in Washington, DC, reviewed with interest Brent McClendon’s recent blog regarding the “continued fight against Lacey.”

Although it is unclear exactly what Mr. McClendon finds to oppose in the current law and exactly what he intends to fight for in the future, it may be instructive to review the key reasons why the Federation and our member associations, representing thousands of hardwood companies, strongly support the Lacey Act and the protections it offers to the industry.

• The Hardwood Industry has suffered tremendous employment and economic losses in the past several years. Jobs have declined by nearly 300,000 since 2006 and countless mills have been forced to shut down due to economic pressures. The Lacey Act is important as it offers a fair and level playing field for U.S. workers negatively impacted by the flow of illegally harvested wood and wood products into the country.

• The Lacey Act amendments of 2008 that included hardwood timber within its jurisdiction is the result of bi-partisan efforts, including Democrats and Republicans, environmentalists and business leaders, large and small hardwood timber interests.

• Since 2008, global illegal logging has been cut by 22 percent, in no small part to the power and influence of the Lacey Act.

• In 2006, the United States ran a $20.3 billion deficit with China in the forest products sector. In 2010 the United States realized a $600 million surplus, in large part to the Lacey Act which led many Chinese manufacturers to search out low-risk, legally sourced wood.

• Cutting trees outside the boundaries of the law devastates environmentally sensitive forests and parks around the world. The Lacey Act is intended to stem the flow of illegally harvested timber into the United States and is serving as the model for legislation around the globe, including the European Union, Australia and Japan. The United States should be proud of its leadership on the international stage regarding the preservation and protection of environmentally sensitive forests and parks around the world.

The Hardwood Federation is strongly in favor of maintaining the protections offered by the Lacey Act. If Mr. McClendon has specific thoughts regarding further improvements to the Act, we are more than happy to discuss them with him.

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