Did you know that almost half of all rainforest destruction is done illegally? Government corruption, lax laws and poor enforcement result in widespread illegal deforestation across the globe. This unofficial forest clearing makes it extremely challenging to truly protect critically endangered species like the orangutan or Sumatran tiger from extinction and it contributes enormous amounts of carbon into our atmosphere.
The Republican leadership cancelled for now a vote originally scheduled for this week in the House of Representatives on H.R. 3210, the “RELIEF Act.” A broad coalition of forest products companies, workers, conservation groups, and musicians praised House leadership for halting the measure, which would have many negative economic and ecological consequences if passed.
The Lacey Act ensures that only legally sourced wood and wood products are imported into the country, reducing global deforestation rates and preventing job losses in the American forest products industry. The act has been so successful that other countries are looking to create their own versions of the law.
Over sixty major forest products companies, thirty-five leading conservation organizations and labor unions, and over thirty top-selling musicians sent letters to members of Congress asking them to oppose any attempts to weaken the Lacey Act.
But the Lacey Act remains in jeopardy by those wishing to end environmental protections and regulations. Their proposals, such as the “RELIEF” Act and “FOCUS” Act, would effectively gut the Lacey Act, reversing years of hard fought efforts to stop international deforestation.
These bills would directly benefit notorious forest destroyers like Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) and would allow illegal loggers to around the world to operate with impunity. The result would be a flood of illegal wood into the U.S. market.