As I sit down to write this column the IWPA offices are returning to normal after the whirlwind of planning and executing our 60th World of Wood Annual Convention. For the second year in a row a record number of attendees registered to participate in a full agenda of speakers and panel discussions, networking events, and who can forget the armadillo racing that proved even more hilarious than I imagined. I couldn’t decide whether the armadillos were cute or hideous, but as the attendees scrambled to herd them across the finish line I couldn’t help but think about the economic and regulatory twists and turns that must be negotiated as our members scramble to guide their companies to profitability.
We worked hard to assemble a slate of speakers and activities that was worthy of the time and expense attendees commit when they register. One especially successful session featured Christopher Hale of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environmental Crimes Section, one of the attorneys who participated in the Lumber Liquidators prosecution and ultimate settlement for Lacey Act and customs law violations. Hale’s presentation, which is available on our website, covered the DOJ’s approach to Lacey prosecutions, specifics about the Lumber Liquidators case, and the basis behind the Environmental Compliance Plan that Lumber Liquidators agreed to.
Another critical panel discussion featured Erik Winchester of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Lynn Baker of the California Air Resources Board, and Elise Dieterich of the law firm Kutak Rock, LLP. Winchester and Baker shared the latest on their respective agencies’ development of formaldehyde emissions regulations and Dieterich gave a summary of lawsuits that have sprung up in the wake of reports of excess formaldehyde emissions from certain laminate flooring sold by Lumber Liquidators.
In both instances attendees were able to interact with speakers in a way that provides critical insight for companies navigating these complicated legal and regulatory waters.
Attendees left Austin with a clear understanding of the need to be mindful of due diligence in their operations. In order to address this need, in May IWPA launched our Wood Trade Compliance Training and Due Diligence Tools course which was produced in partnership with the World Resources Institute and USAID. By the time this issue hits your mailbox we will have held our first three classes in High Point, Pomona/LA, and Portland. If you have not yet attended a course, you can still register at www.IWPAwood.org
for the June 21st course in Chicago, the August 23rd course in Atlanta scheduled to coincide with IWF, and the September 21st course in Alexandria, Virginia, which will be part of IWPA’s Mid-Year Member Meeting. And don’t worry, IWPA’s Due Care Committee is already planning for the next phase of this project to ensure that companies can see their tailored due care procedures as a competitive advantage rather than a compliance headache.