PORTLAND, Maine — As another paper mill announced Monday that it will shut its doors, Maine U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King asked federal officials for help to address “an economic crisis of unprecedented magnitude” in Maine’s forest products industry.
In a letter sent Monday to the U.S. Commerce Department, Collins and King focused on declines in the state’s pulp and paper industry and called on the department to lead a team from various federal agencies to study Maine’s forest product economy, as the department did for the Gulf Coast region in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
“Our hope is that this effort will set the stage for the affected regions in the state to shape their own economic future by strengthening existing assets and support new innovation and ideas that create jobs and support our rural communities,” the senators wrote.
Collins and King cited the Katahdin and Lincoln areas as examples of areas harmed by mill closures and urged a federal team to meet with local officials there and in other communities.
They also asked that the department take an inventory of the state’s assets in the forest products industry, support innovations in those markets and use the study to improve the department’s strategies for helping rural parts of the country.
The senators issued the letter without specific reference to the announcement Monday that the Madison mill would be closing by May.
In a joint statement Monday afternoon, the senators said the news of that closure is “devastating” and reinforced their call for the commerce department to assign a multi-agency team to help promote and sustain Maine’s forest-based industries.
“Such a team is needed now more than ever, and we will continue to press the Commerce Department and its federal partners to assist rural Maine,” the senators wrote.
Read the full letter from Collins and King below.