WASHINGTON - The National Retail Federation said it has joined with groups asking Congress to review and revise Lacey Act rules regarding the importation of wood products and plant material. 

"Retailers recognize the need for environmental conservation but the current law leaves them guessing on which products are legal and which aren't," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. "Congress needs to carefully review the Lacey Act to ensure that the goal of eliminating illegal logging is its primary objective, not penalizing businesses that are doing their best to comply with an unworkable law."

NRF has argued that the scope of foreign laws and regulations that could result in a violation is too vague, and it can be virtually impossible to trace all the wood and plant content in many manufactured products, making effective compliance and enforcement of the law extremely challenging.

The federation said it is working with the Natural Resources Committee "to develop a new bill that would provide due process to importers who have done proper due diligence to ensure their products contain no illegally harvested wood or plant material that would allow them to petition a court for return of any merchandise seized under the law." The amended bill would also specify products made with wood or plant material harvested before 2008 be exempt under the Lacey Act.

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