A House committee approved a bill to reform the Lacey Act to avoid what retailers and other businesses say are unintended consequences from amendments to the century-old environmental law.
The Lacey Act was enacted in 1900 to curb shipments of endangered animal species, and amended in 2008 to include all plants and products. The amendments also required companies to certify that they hadn’t violated laws of exporting nations.
Numerous industry groups complain the Lacey amendments are too broad and have created unintended consequences by subjecting companies to red tape and legal liability.
The House Natural Resources Committee voted 25-19 for a bill sponsored by Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., and modified by an amendment offered by Rep. John Fleming, R-La. The bill is currently slated for a full House vote in July.
The bill would allow importers that can prove they exercised due diligence in their supply chains to petition for return of seized property. It also would exempt wood and plant products harvested before the law was amended in 2008. Other changes would limit the scope of applicable foreign laws to the preservation and conservation of trees and plants, and limit the import declaration requirement to products containing solid wood instead of composites.