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Jake Schmidt

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Dave Matthews Band on Deforestation & Illegal Wood

Posted: 07/10/2012 3:43 pm

RAN Staff Visits Allies and Sites of Forest Conflict in Indonesia - July 2011Stefan Lessard, founding member of Dave Matthews Band, recently wrote an editorial in the Richmond Times-Dispatch which condemned efforts to undermine a critical U.S. law that is helping curb deforestation by stopping the flow of illegal wood and wood products.  The law, the Lacey Act, is under attack by some companies and Members of Congress. One House of Representatives committee recently passed a bill to undermine the Lacey Act, despite bi-partisan opposition to the bill’s passage. And House Leadership is pushing for this bill to come up for a vote by the whole House of Representatives before the end of July. Passage of this bill would be devastating for efforts to address deforestation, as Dave Matthews Band and other leading musicians recognized.

Proponents of the bill to undermine the Lacey Act claim that their bill is just a small “tweak” which helps individual musicians. After all, no one wants to hurt a struggling musician or hurt a small Mom and Pop music company. Unfortunately, the bill that passed would do much more than its proponents claim. This is why some big businesses like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the trade association that represents home builders, Ikea, and the trade association made up of major retailers (such as Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, REI, Lowe’s, Home Depot, IBM and Unilever)  have come out in support of efforts to undermine the Lacey Act.

So with the purported plight of individual musicians being used as justification for undermining the Lacey Act, it is welcome news to have musicians like Dave Matthews Band take a public stand. Dave Matthews Band recently joined with other leading musicians in signing a petition calling for Members of Congress to not undermine this law. These musicians want to ensure that their musical instruments aren’t driving the destruction of forests around the world.

The full editorial from Stefan Lessard is worth a read but here are a couple of the key points:  

“…I want a bass guitar that sounds as good as possible. But I also care deeply about whether its wood is harming the environment….

That is why it is important to me that the instruments I use are made from legally sourced wood and do not contribute to illegal deforestation in other parts of the world, which devastates local economies and ecosystems…

Unfortunately, now there are efforts in Congress to eviscerate the Lacey Act.

…These bills' supporters claim that they are only trying to protect individual musicians who mistakenly travel out of the country with an instrument made from illegal wood. This is an unfounded worry, since the U.S. government has stated that it won't target individual musicians but will only focus on "commercial traffickers." This is pure fear-mongering.

Congress members seeking to undercut the Lacey Act are out of tune with the majority of musicians who are committed to ensuring sustainable practices so future generations also have access to the tonewoods that provide the rich sounds that make music great.”

I sure hope Members of Congress starting listening.

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Photo: Deforestation in Indonesia, courtesy of Rainforest Action Network under Creative Commons License.

 

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