Today's sentence marks the end of a multi-year investigation in which the Department of Justice found that Lumber Liquidators imported products made of wood harvested illegally in Russia, including timber cut from Siberian tiger habitat.
Last week hardwood flooring giant Lumber Liquidators pleaded guilty before a federal judge in Norfolk, Virginia for importing illegally sourced wood into the U.S. It is also a strong message that the United States intends to crack down on the illegal timber trade using the Lacey Act.
In addition to pleading guilty to several charges, the company agreed to pay millions in fines and to implement a compliance plan to ensure their products are sourced legally in the future.
We do not need to rely on another unenforceable trade deal that may, in fact, pose threats to their habitats. Other more effective tools exist to reduce illegal wildlife trade -- ones that are free of the TPP's threats to the environment.
The lack of enforcement of the U.S.-Peru free trade agreement has allowed the illegal timber trade to flourish and has put our environment, climate, businesses and consumer rights at risk. And now the United States is negotiating a new free trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), that includes the U.S., Peru, and ten other countries.
Cecil the lion was shot with a bow and arrow, then stalked for 40 hours before he was finally killed with a rifle.
Going undercover to plant GPS trackers on truck shipments sounds like a plotline from the TV drama 24, or a James Bond movie. But that's just what Greenpeace did to track shipments of illegally-logged timber from the Amazon rainforest in Brazil to sawmills and eventually overseas.
In a remote region near Peru's border with Brazil, a prominent activist, Edwin Chota, was shot and killed, along with three community leaders. Suspected in the killings were illegal loggers, who have long tried to extract tropical hardwoods in nearby forests.
Recycling used cell phones to combat deforestation is an encouraging development -- hopefully one that will be replicated and scaled up around the world. However, efforts to combat the act of illegal logging must be paired with efforts to curb the demand for illegally harvested timber from importing countries.
Now, companies that import wood products must identify the species and origin of their products. Violators of the law face fines and jail time.
On an otherwise ordinary Thursday this fall, officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raided the corporate headquarters of Lumber Liquidators, the top-selling flooring retailer in America, in Toano, Virginia.
Last year, Tea Party Members of Congress temporarily persuaded GOP leadership to abandon their usual political acuity and launch a series of attacks on the Lacey Act, one of America's most successful environmental and economic laws. You'd think this might be too much even for the Tea Party.
Some of the world's greatest and most vital forests are currently being threatened by illegal exploitation. The Lacey Act not only helps save these woodlands from destruction, but it also supports indigenous communities who are protecting their lands from illegal encroachment.