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Clearing a Path for Illegal Logging

July 25th, 2012|Tags: , |

Credit: D H Wright/Flickr

The Lacey Act was introduced more than a century ago and was the first piece of federal legislation to protect against wildlife trafficking.

Today, because of a 2008 amendment, the Lacey Act is primarily used to protect against importing non-native plant species and illegal logging practices. This act has been an important part of protecting not only the American wood-product industry and domestic forestry jobs from being undercut by illegally imported goods, but also promoting the sustainable use of domestic trees over the illegal logging practices that lead to global deforestation. In the next week, a House floor vote could change all that.

House leadership has announced that H.R. 3210, the “Retailers and Entertainers Lacey Implementation and Enforcement Fairness” or RELIEF Act, will be coming up for a full House vote in the next week. The RELIEF Act would undermine efforts to prevent illegal logging and trading by:

  • Eliminating the requirement for non-solid wood products manufacturers (i.e. paper products makers) to know their wood source.
  • Establishing a fixed penalty for first-time offenders regardless of the volume of or value of the illegal product – instead of using a scale with higher penalties for more severe offenses.
  • Eliminating the requirement for manufacturers to turn over goods that have been proven to be stolen.

These components of the RELIEF Act take away from the measures and punishments in the Lacey Act that deter illegal practices, leaving less incentive to stay away from them.

Dave Matthews is one of the many musicians that support the Lacey Act. Credit: chris friese/Flickr

Since the 2008 amendment that included the protection of timber and wood products, illegal logging is slowly on the decline as new practices become more commonplace. But even with the Lacey Act in place, these illegal practices still occur and cost the American wood products industry around $1 billion annually. Passing the RELIEF Act would only exacerbate this figure.

There is hope though. The RELIEF Act may have passed the House Natural Resources Committee, but several environmental groups, the timber industry, labor unions and even musicians are already speaking out against this bill. You too can take action by telling your representative to vote NO on the RELIEF Act by filling out and sending advocacy letters through NRDC or Sierra Club. I hope that representatives will hear this message loud and clear before the bill comes up for a vote.

July 25th, 2012|Tags: , |3 Comments


  1. Geneve Keel July 25, 2012 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    My family has some “homeplace” land in KY, originally granted to them by George Washington after the Revolutionary War. Illegal loggers got onto the property and cut down whatever trees they wished, in the process damming a hot spring. They also cut down a huge sycamore, which was about 400 year old and still young at the time of the Revolution; it was so big they couldn’t get it on their truck and they left it there as it had fallen. They destroyed our homeplace and the family graveyard that is in it. I would not like to see such destruction occur in OUR forests, legal or illegal. Please vote NO on the Relief Act that would diminish the penalties of the Lacey Act. Thank you.

  2. Beth Lauxen July 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm - Reply

    Please DO NOT pass this bill! I cannot imagine any reasonable person thinking this would solve any of our problems. We have already had huge deforestation from the fires in the west this year. This is NOT the time to relax regulations on this industry.

  3. Jim Wenzel August 9, 2012 at 9:28 am - Reply

    NOW is not the time to relax regulations on the logging industry. Common sense over greed.

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