August 01, 2007

"Combat Illegal Logging Act" Levels the Playing Field for American Business, Protects American Jobs and the Environment

Wyden legislation endorsed by unusual coalition of industry, labor and environmental groups

Washington, D.C. - With the collective support of the timber and timber-products industry, organized labor, and the environmental community, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) today introduced the Combat Illegal Logging Act of 2007 in order to halt the trade of illegal timber and timber products. American manufacturers are increasingly struggling to compete with the low-priced wood and wood products being harvested from illegal sources and illegal logging is a source of severe environmental damage in many parts of the world.

"Illegal logging has been giving timber and timber product exports from countries including China an unfair advantage over U.S. companies that are following the rules," Wyden said. "This bill will help level the playing field for American manufacturers, protect the jobs of the workers they employ, and address an illegal logging crisis."

The Combat Illegal Logging Act of 2007 would expand the Lacey Act — which currently regulates trade in fish, wildlife, and a limited subset of plants — to prohibit the import, sale or trade in illegally-harvested wood and wood products.

By curbing illegal logging in regions including the Amazon, the Congo Basin, and Siberia, Wyden's legislation also works to preserve and protect ecosystems that are being destroyed by this devastating practice.

The legislation being introduced today is the product of extensive negotiations with the American Forest and Paper Association, the Hardwood Federation and the Environmental Investigation Agency.

"The effort that this unprecedented coalition of industry, labor and environmental groups invested in reaching this agreement illustrates the way that Washington should work every day," Wyden said.

Legislation to combat illegal logging by amending the Lacey Act, H.R.1497, the "Legal Timber Protection Act," was first introduced by Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore) in March. He was joined by Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL), Congressman Jerry Weller (R-IL), and a broad coalition of supporters from environmental, industry, and labor groups. The bill now has 27 cosponsors and is expected to receive a hearing in the Natural Resources Committee in the near future.

"I am pleased Senator Wyden has introduced legislation similar to the Legal Timber Protection Act," said Congressman Blumenauer. "The Senate version, which includes language agreed to by environmental and industry groups, is a step forward that makes passage of our bills all the more likely. Illegal logging harms the environment and means unfair trade for U.S. producers - which is why it's so important these groups have reached an accord. I appreciate the hard work of all parties involved and I am more optimistic that the Legal Timber Protection Act - with its broad coalition of supporters and an updated text - will become law. "

At the time of introduction, the Combat Illegal Logging Act of 2007 has 3 cosponsors, including U.S. Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Russell Feingold (D-WI).

In addition, the following organizations have endorsed the Combat Illegal Logging Act of 2007:

American Forest and Paper Association
Center for International Environmental Law
Conservation International
Defenders of Wildlife
Dogwood Alliance
Environmental Investigation Agency.
Friends of the Earth
Global Witness
Hardwood Federation
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
National Hardwood Lumber Association
Natural Resources Defense Council
Rainforest Action Network
Rainforest Alliance
Sierra Club
Society of American Foresters
Sustainable Furniture Council
The Nature Conservancy
Tropical Forest Trust
United Steelworkers
Wildlife Conservation Society
World Wildlife Fund