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August 4, 2016

Industry insiders, lawmakers meet to chart future of biomass in Maine

Photo / James McCarthy
Photo / James McCarthy
Dana Doran, executive director of the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine, was a presenter at the bipartisan panel that met to discuss what can be done to aid Maine's biomass industry.

A bipartisan panel of local lawmakers and industry experts met for the first time in Augusta this week to discuss what actions can be taken to assist Maine's struggling biomass industry in the wake of two biomass plants closing in March.

"The work we do here will be a crucial step in shaping the future of our state's forest products industry," said House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, who serves as co-chair of the commission, according to a release. "A sustainable future for the biomass industry is key to strengthening rural Maine's natural resources-based economy, preserving jobs and our traditional industries in the parts of our state hit hardest by the recession."

The commission was created by lawmakers in response to challenges facing an industry that directly supports approximately 150 jobs across the state, according to the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine. It includes stakeholders in the forest products and energy sectors, representatives from state agencies, lawmakers and Colby College's Gus Libby.

"Biomass represents a quarter of Maine's power supply, making it an important source of energy that's renewable, homegrown and keeps dollars in our state," said Rep. Deane Rykerson, D-Kittery, a member of the panel, in a release. "This crisis has the potential to ripple not only through the forest products industry but throughout the state."

The bipartisan panel is slated to meet again in Augusta on Aug. 16.

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