The Wall Street Journal needs to fact-check its anti-Lacey Act rant

Illegal logging for rosewood and ebony -- including that used by Gibson Guitars -- is destroying and degrading the last remaining rainforests in Madagascar

On Friday the Wall Street Journal carried an anti-Lacey Act rant by Kim Strassel. The post contained the usual talking points pushed by Gibson Guitar Corp and the Tea Party groups that have turned its alleged illegal activities a cause-célèbre for anti-regulation types. But is also contained errors.

First, the Environmental Investigation Agency is not a “murky British green outfit” but an NGO registered in both the U.S. and the U.K. Unlike some the groups that have gotten behind Gibson’s campaign (e.g. the Consumer Alliance for Global Prosperity), EIA discloses its donors and its filings are available from the IRS.

Second, initial action against Gibson was about illegally-sourced timber from Madagascar, which according to preliminary filings was not “legal and documented”. Emails from Gibson employees confirm that the company knew it was buying from a grey-market source, one which was avoided by other prominent guitar makers due to concern over legality. Strassel’s commentary only mentions the second Gibson raid, which was about Indian rosewood.

Third, Strassel asserts that the 2008 amendment to the Lacey Act “does nothing to stamp out illegal logging—the products from which were already clearly no-nos”. Yet the Lacey Act amendment specifically bans import of illegally-logged timber. How does that not help reduce the incentive for illegal logging?

This represents yet another example of why I didn’t renew my subscription.

WSJ: Stringing Up Gibson Guitar by Kim Strassel.

Author: Mongabay

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