U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud wants U.S. trade officials to investigate a deal that provided a defunct Nova Scotia paper mill with $124.5 million to restart operations.
The Bangor Daily News reported that Michaud, in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, asks for an investigation of the deal to ensure it did not violate existing trade agreements.
"Nova Scotia's support of the Pacific West Commercial facility will disadvantage Maine's mills at a time when the U.S. paper industry is already facing challenges from countries like China who do not play by the rules," Michaud wrote, according to the BDN.
On Wednesday morning, the BDN reported, paper company leaders told a Bangor Chamber of Commerce audience that the industry is still strong and viable but faces challenges in hiring younger workers and getting access to cheaper energy through a natural gas pipeline.
Industry observers and the head of the UPM mill in Madison, which produces the same stock of paper as the Nova Scotia mill set to reopen, told the BDN that the deal could pose significant challenges for Maine paper producers.
Earlier this month, Kirk was in the state to tour a New Balance factory in Norridgewock. Michaud called in his letter for Kirk to recall a 2010 trip to a Verso paper mill in Bucksport, which produces a type of paper similar to the Nova Scotia mill, in Port Hawkesbury.