House Bill Stems Importation of Wood Products Logged Illegally
The House Committee on Natural Resources recently passed a bill to dissuade illegal logging in foreign countries by blocking the ability of foreign governments to send illegally harvested wood products into the United States.
H.R. 1497, the Legal Timber Protection Act of 2007, introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ohio), would place all imported wood and wood products under the jurisdiction of the Lacey Act, which governs the parameters under which products may be excluded from importation into the U.S. as a result of their illegal origin.
While fully supporting the intent of the bill, NAHB originally opposed the measure because it would have allowed the Department of Justice to pursue all entities in the chain of custody of a wood product for prosecution and forfeiture of the wood products in question, even though many in the chain of custody ― including home builders — could have no possible way of knowing that the source of the wood product had once been illegally harvested timber.
NAHB worked closely with committee chairman Nick Rahall (D-W. Va.) to secure language that would limit the ability of the government to pursue consumers who have no knowledge of the wood product’s origin.
With this language accepted by the committee, NAHB now supports the bill, which is expected to go to the House floor later this session.
At NAHB’s urging, the Senate sponsor of companion legislation, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), included the same language in his version of the legislation that would protect innocent owners from prosecution and forfeiture of their goods.
Working with Senate leaders, Sen. Wyden was able to get his version of the illegal logging bill, S. 1930, added to the Farm Bill Reauthorization currently being considered on the Senate floor.
To view the legislation, click here and enter the bill number in the box in the upper center screen.
For more information, e-mail Jenna Hamilton at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8407.