Vote on logging bill could come soon NMMA warns

WASHINGTON – The National Marine Manufacturers Association has issued another “Action Alert” message concerning legislation in the U.S. Congress to combat illegal logging that NMMA says could harm small domestic boat manufacturers.

NMMA has learned that Oregon Senator Ron Wyden intends to offer his bill, "Combat Illegal Logging Act," as an amendment on the Senate floor to the 2007 Farm Bill, and is urging its members to contact their Senators and tell them to vote against the Wyden Amendment. NMMA says the bill “could have severely negative consequences for boat manufacturers and other companies that use certain timber products in their vessels. We expect the Farm Bill to move to the Senate floor for consideration as early as next week.”

NMMA says the Wyden Amendment requires importers and manufacturers to be responsible for foreign laws outside the scope of Natural Resources Law.

“There is no reason that proposed legislation should impose criminal and civil penalties for activities that are not within the purview of Natural Resources Law,” NMMA wrote. “The bill as offered would wrap many other laws (for example, tax, trade, labor, etc) into the Lacey Act for timber trade purposes. It is unacceptable to expect small businesses to be familiar with and enforce so many foreign regulations.

“There is no protection for “innocent owners.” An “innocent owner” defense protects manufacturers from strict forfeiture liability of manufactured goods and inventory of imported wood products. Without the “innocent owner” provision, manufacturers would have to prove that the timber was legally harvested, rather than the onus being on the government to prove that the timber was not legally harvested.

“Finally, the documentation requirements in the proposed bill are poorly defined and unnecessary. The Wyden Amendment would require increased documentation without defining what that documentation will be and what agency will manage/enforce that documentation, while again placing the onus on manufacturers and importers to implement a program that works across third-world country lines. These requirements will be virtually impossible to implement and will have severe negative impact on the international trade of legal timber for U.S. manufacturers.”

NMMA members are asked to contact their senators through a link to the NMMA Boating Online Advocacy Tool, or by calling them through the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and asking that they oppose S. 1930.

Members are also asked to let Bryan Zumwalt (bzumwalt@nmma.org; 202-737-9764) know that they have contacted their senators, as this information will help with follow up and lobbying against the bill.

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