WASHINGTON – Craig Forester, chairman of the International Wood Product Assn.’s Government Affairs Committee, protested a proposed law to curb illegal logging during an Oct. 16 hearing before the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans.

“This legislation is well-intended but attempts to get illegal logging by deputizing small, family businesses to enforce foreign laws,” Forester said. “If enacted, U.S. importers, manufacturers and distributors can be held responsible for illegal acts overseas at any step of the supply chain – violations that they would have no reasonable expectation to know about, much less the underlying laws that exist in all foreign countries.”

Forester’s testimony  was countered by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), sponsor of HR 1497, The Legal Timber Protection Act.

“Illegal logging threatens some of the world’s riches and most vulnerable forests and costs the U.S. forest products industry over $1 billion every year in lost opportunities and lower prices,” Blumenauer said.

“My bill is designed to go after the worst of the worst. It asks companies to take very basic responsibility to certify where their timber comes from. This shouldn’t be a problem for any responsible importer: know your sources and be able to document what you are importing and where it comes from.”

On Oct. 3, a panel of three IWPA representatives provided testimony at a public hearing of the International Trade Commission, as part of the Section 332 investigation on the U.S. flooring and hardwood plywood industries. (Read more.)

IWPA is joined in opposition to HR 1497 by National Association of Home Builders, National Federation of Independent Business, National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Assn., American Home Furnishings Alliance and National Marine Manufacturers Assn.

Proponents of the bill include the American Forest and Paper Assn. and the Hardwood Federation.

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