Greenpeace today hailed the introduction of landmark legislation to confront the global challenge of illegal logging. The Combat Illegal Logging Act, introduced today by Sen. Ron Wyden (D- OR), would put into place the strongest mechanisms enacted by any country to stop the flow of illegal timber in international trade by closing the consumer markets that drive that trade. Identical language will be brought forward in the House as an amendment to the Legal Timber Protection Act (H.R. 1497) introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) in March. The bills represent a unique collaboration among industry, labor and environmental groups, including Greenpeace and the Environmental Investigation Agency.
"This Combat Illegal Logging Act represents a huge stride
forward in curbing one of the most significant environmental and
social challenges facing our planet," said Carroll Muffett, Deputy
Campaigns Director for Greenpeace USA. "In addition to its direct
impacts on biodiversity, tropical deforestation accounts for up to
25% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, making it a major
contributor to global warming."
"It also contributes to human suffering," Muffett added. "From
the Amazon to Indonesia to the Congo, illegal logging has been
linked to violence, human rights abuses, loss of land for
indigenous communities, and a loss of tax revenue for some of the
world's poorest countries."
The Combat Illegal Logging bill extends the hundred-year old
Lacey Act, which has banned imports of illegal fish and wildlife
for decades but did not previously apply to timber. Under this new
bill, wood and paper products harvested in violation of foreign or
international law would be reachable under Lacey-and by US courts.
Previously, only a handful of species protected by international
treaty received such protection. It would also specify the types of
foreign law violations that trigger Lacey Act liability for timber
and timber products, based on those that rise to the level of
international concern, as defined in a recent AF&PA study. The
Combat Illegal Logging Act also would create a declaration
requirement to facilitate the Lacey Act's enforcement for timber
without placing an undue burden upon law-abiding businesses.
Calls to close the U.S. market to imports of illegal logs have
received broad support from both industry and environmental
advocates. Under existing law, there are few mechanisms in place
to actually stop the flow of illegal woods into the country.
Through these bills, Sen. Wyden and Rep. Blumenauer have filled
this gap and for the first time ever, allowed the U.S. to
officially stop the flow of illegal wood into the country. This
puts an end to unnecessary losses for domestic companies who are
forced to compete with cheap illegal wood products flowing into the
The bills are a direct result of work by Greenpeace and the
Environmental Investigation Agency, who have been highlighting the
gaps in existing U.S. law on this issue, and documenting the flow
of illegal timber entering the U.S. from across the world.
Greenpeace is currently working to expose the impacts of illegal
logging in the two largest tropical rainforests in the world: those
in the Amazon region of South America and the Congo Basin area of
Africa, where many valuable wood species are logged to make wood
products for export. Greenpeace was indicted as an organization by
the U.S. government in July 2003 for a peaceful protest undertaken
in April 2002, in which activists boarded a ship bound for Miami
that had illegal Brazilian mahogany onboard. The unprecedented
federal prosecution against Greenpeace was eventually
Exp. contact date: 2007-09-01 00:00:00