Gov. LePage urges Massachusetts to reconsider rule that harms Maine wood industry

Gov. LePage urges Massachusetts to reconsider rule that harms Maine wood industr

Maine Gov. Paul LePage has urged Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker to reconsider a rule change that forced two Washington County plants to shut down last month, throwing nearly four dozen workers out of jobs.

Massachusetts’ new renewable energy standards have created tougher challenges for Maine’s logging industry, which is already facing problems due to the disintegration of the biomass market and closure of pulp & paper mills.

The rule change, which took effect on January 1, threw at least biomass electricity plants in Washington County out of program that offers higher payments for environment-friendly renewable energy. The closure of the two plants threw at least 44 people out of work.

Robert Cleaves, the president of the Biomass Power Association, argued that the new rule has nothing to do with greenhouse gases as it claims.

Speaking on the issue, Cleaves said, “You would think the environmental community would care about the rural health in Maine – not just the environmental but the economic.”

The rule change in question is threatening to further squeeze the region’s loggers, who are already struggling to find buyers for wood and byproduct wood from cutting lumber. In less than a couple of years, four paper mills have closed, and one more will shut down next month.

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