WASHINGTON — Speaking out against proposed changes to the Lacey Act, and calling the current rule “good for American business,” a coalition of wood industry and environmental representatives voiced their continued support for the environmental legislation in a teleconference call held Wednesday.
Targeted specifically in comments was H.R. 3210, the Retailers and Entertainers Lacey Implementation and Enforcement Fairness (RELIEF) Act, sponsored by Representatives Jim Cooper, Marsha Blackburn and Mary Bono Mack. According to the conference call participants, the RELIEF Act, currently in committee under House Natural Resources, undermines efforts to reduce illegal logging while giving a “free pass” to imported items made from pulp, paper, composites and other non-solid wood products. The RELIEF Act also reduces fines to “a negligible” $250 for the first offense.
The RELIEF Act has already garnered support by a number of organizations, including the National Association of Music Merchants, the American Home Furnishings Alliance, the International Wood Products Association and the National Association of Home Builders.
However, a number of groups and individuals say that rather than “weakening” the Lacey Act, it needs to be enforced more vigorously. “Anything that makes the playing field unlevel, we’re against,” Don Finkell, president of Anderson Floors said during the conference call. Noting that a lot of imports in the flooring industry use questionably obtained wood, “it’s definitely hard to be competitive,” he added.
“The Lacey Act not only protects indigenous forest overseas, but also jobs for U.S. workers,” said Roy Houseman of the United Steelworkers, which includes pulp and paper manufacturers.
Also participating in the conference call, organized by Climate Advisors, was Lisa Handy, senior policy advisor for Environmental Investigation Agency, Jake Schmidt, International Climate Policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Jameson French, CEO of Northland Forest Products and a board member of the Hardwood Federation.
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